Stewart Hagestad and Scott Harvey both made a pretty strong case for their inclusion on the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team during their epic battle for the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship at Stonewall that Hagestad finally won on the 37th hole, the par-3 ninth hole at Tom Doak’s Old Course in scenic northwest Chester County.
And the two Mid-Am finalists will at least be considered for the U.S. team, which will take on the Great Britain & Ireland side Sept. 9 and 10 at Los Angeles Country Club, a course at which Hagestad, who resides in New York, grew up playing and maintains a junior membership.
Hagestad and Harvey are among the 16 amateur players invited to play Dec. 14 to 18 at the Los Angeles Country Club layout in preparation for the biennial competition. Harvey, who won the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur title at Saucon Valley Country Club, was a member of the U.S. team that fell to GB&I in the 2015 Walker Cup Match at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, 16.5-9.5. Harvey went 1-2.
Hagestad, who at 25 was the second youngest winner in the history of the Mid-Am, and the 38-year-old Harvey of Greensboro, N.C. are the only two mid-ams invited to the preliminary practice session. The final 10-man U.S. team won’t be announced until the completion of the 2017 U.S. Amateur, which will also be staged at a Los Angeles classic, Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., in August. Players not invited to this month’s practice session can still make the team.
Hagestad and Harvey certainly put on a show at Stonewall. Harvey was a co-medalist in qualifying over the two Doak gems, the Old Course and the North Course, the record fourth time he’s been a Mid-Am qualifying medalist.
The final also marked the first time the USGA staged a 36-hole final over two different courses with Harvey grabbing a 3-up lead after a morning round over the North Course.
He stretched his lead to as large as 5-up and was still 4-up with five holes to play when the putts started to fall for Hagestad, who starred collegiately at Southern California. Hagestad drained birdie putts at 14, 15 and 17 and Harvey conceded an eight-footer for birdie to Hagestad on the 18th, the 36th of the match, to enable Hagestad to finally pull even.
When his 14-foot birdie putt tumbled in on the ninth hole, the 37th of the match, Hagestad led for the first time all day and won the championship. He had made nine birdies in 19 holes on the Old Course, needing birdies at the fourth and fifth holes just to get halves.
It will be tough for two mid-ams to crack the lineup, but Hagestat and Harvey will have the summer to add to their resumes, but they both certainly displayed some pretty solid match-play credentials at Stonewall.
The other 14 players invited to the practice session at Los Angeles Country Club are the cream of the current collegiate crop, led by Stanford senior Maverick McNealy, No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). McNealy is from Portola Valley, Calif.
Texas will be represented by junior Scottie Scheffler of Dallas, No. 17 in the WAGR, senior Gavin Hall of Pittsford, N.Y., No. 19 in the WAGR, and junior Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, Ill. Southern Cal will send junior Sam Crocker of Westlake Village, Calif. and senior Rico Hoey of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Another Division I power, Illinois, also will send a pair of players in junior Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Ill. and junior Dylan Meyer of Evansville, Ind.
Rounding out the talented group of collegians are: Lipscomb junior Dawson Armstrong of Bentwood, Tenn.; Oklahoma sophomore Brad Dalke of Norman, Okla.; California sophomore Collin Marikawa of La Canada, Calif.; UNLV junior John Oda of Honolulu, Hawaii; Virginia senior Jimmy Stanger of Tampa, Fla.; and Wake Forest junior Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas.
John “Spider” Miller of Bloomington, Ind. captained the U.S. team at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s and will return for the U.S. home game. Miller is a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a member of the 1999 U.S. Walker Cup team.
The Walker Cup at Merion Golf Club’s famed East Course in 2009 is among my favorite golf memories. The winning U.S. team was led by Rickie Fowler and a slew of players who you can tee playing on TV in professional tournaments these days.
But a mid-am standout on captain Buddy Marucci’s U.S. team that year was a Pennsylvania guy, Nathan Smith, who played well that week and went on to add three more U.S. Mid-Amateur titles to the one he won in 2003 and played on two more U.S. Walker Cup teams.
The USGA might have to give serious consideration to including the two mid-ams who slugged it out at Stonewall to its 2017 U.S. side.