U.S. Mid-Amateur victory lands former OC golfer a spot at Augusta
Orange County native Stewart Hagestad rallied to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur title by overcoming a four-hole deficit to defeat Scott Harvey with a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole.
Hagestad, 25, who was raised in Newport Beach and played collegiately at USC, won four of the final five holes of regulation — all with birdies — and finished off Harvey on the 37th hole in late September at Stonewall Links in Elverson, Pa.
“It's an absolute dream come true," Hagestad said of the victory that includes a spot in next year’s Masters. “This is something I've dreamed about ever since I can remember, and it's an honor and a privilege to represent mid-amateurs around the country and to have won the championship.”
Hagestad was 5-down after 25 holes and 4-down after 31 in the event for players 25 and older.
“I had him right where I wanted him,” joked Hagestad, who won the par-4 32nd and par-3 33rd, halved the par-4 34th with a bogey and won the par-3 35th and par-4 36th to tie it.
“Just keep chipping away at it,” Hagestad said of his strategy. “I didn't want to go to sleep knowing I left anything out there. … I felt like I could get the ball rolling.”
Hagestad hopes to play a practice round at Augusta National with friends Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas when their schedules align. But it won’t be the first time Hagestad has played a round at one of golf’s most hallowed sites. After his Mid-Amateur victory, he recalled the time when Pat Haden, then the athletic director at USC, took him, the men’s golf team and some coaches to Augusta National for a weekend during his senior year.
“You know, when you have the opportunity to go there, it's like heaven,” said Hagestad, who has been working in the financial field in New York the past couple years. “It's like everything is whole. You don't want to touch anything. I was afraid to walk even on the putting green. … It was a really neat experience, but I was a total deer in the headlights that first round.”
After feeling a bit more comfortable during his second tour of the course, he hopes that feeling returns in April during the Masters.
“That golf tournament is so special,” Hagestad said. “It's an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to go down there again.”