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Monday, April 10, 2017

Hagestad, the star of Stonewall's Mid-Am, shines at the Masters

   For anyone who watched Stewart Hagestad’s dramatic come-from-behind victory in the U.S. Mid-Amateur final at Stonewall’s Old Course last September, it was pretty neat to see him sitting there beside Sergio Garcia for the traditional post-Masters green jacket presentation in Butler Cabin Sunday.
   Hagestad, who became the second youngest Mid-Am winner when he rallied from four holes down with five to play to defeat Scott Harvey on the 37th hole, became the first Mid-Am champion to even make the cut at Augusta National.
   He then went on to record weekend rounds of 74 and 73 to claim low-amateur honors with a 6-over 294 total. He was three shots clear of the only other amateur to make the cut, Curtis Luck, the young Australian who won the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club last summer.
   As you would expect from a tournament founded by Bobby Jones, the greatest American amateur golfer ever, amateurs have always been held in high regard at the Masters. That’s why the low amateur always gets to join the celebration in Butler Cabin.
   During the ceremony Hagestad reiterated some of the comments he made when he made the cut. The former Southern California standout has no intention of turning pro. He was proud to represent amateur golf and mid-amateurs in particular with his strong showing at Augusta National.
   It was also mentioned during the broadcast over the weekend that Hagestad took some time off from his job as a financial analyst for a real estate company in Manhattan to prepare for the Masters. It sounds like he plans to play a lot of golf this summer with an eye toward the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup Match, should he be chosen for the U.S. side, both of which will be played in his home town of Los Angeles.
   Hagestad's performance in the Masters might have locked up that coveted berth on the U.S. Walker Cup team.
   Hagestad is a native of Newport Beach, Calif. The U.S. Amateur will be played at Riviera Country Club, the annual home of the PGA Tour’s L.A. Open, or whatever corporate name it’s going be these days. The Walker Cup will be played at Los Angeles Country Club, a course Hagestad played growing up. It’s his home course.
   In October, a month later than last year, Hagestad will defend his U.S. Mid-Am title at the Capital City Club in Atlanta.
   Hagestad’s outstanding showing at Augusta also flatters the effort of one of Philadelphia’s great mid-amateurs, Michael McDermott, in last year’s U.S. Mid-Am at Stonewall.
   McDermott, who won his third BMW Philadelphia Amateur championship last summer on his home course, the historic East Course at Merion Golf Club, made it all the way to the quarterfinals at Stonewall before Hagestad knocked him out with a 2-up victory.
   It’s unlikely McDermott will take a shot at making the field for a U.S. Amateur all the way across the country at Riveria, but he did indicate he would take full advantage of the qualifying exemption he received into the U.S. Mid-Am by making the quarterfinals at Stonewall.
   It was nice to see Garcia finally get the major monkey off his back with his victory at the Masters, but for those of us who covered Justin Rose’s two huge victories in Delaware County, the 2010 AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club, the Donald Ross masterpiece in Newtown Square, and, of course, the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion in the Ardmore section of Haverford Township, it wouldn’t have been a bad thing if the classy Englishman had been fitted for a green jacket.
   If he gets a seven-foot par putt to drop on the 17th or his 10-footer for birdie at the 18th falls, it would have been Rose winning a second career major and leaving Garcia still waiting and wondering.
   It seemed like it was meant to be for Garcia Sunday, but Rose certainly had his chances. And along the way, Rose proved he still belongs to be considered among the elite players in the game today.

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