Stewart Hagestad was trying to keep his mind clear – focusing on his game and relishing the opportunity to play a Sunday round at Augusta National Golf Club in the 81st Masters Tournament.
The Mid-Amateur champion didn’t realize he had the Silver Cup as the tournament’s low amateur locked up until he hit his approach shot on No. 18 and was told by his caddie, John Doherty, that he had a three-stroke lead on Curtis Luck.
Hagestad closed things out with a par, and shot 1-over par 73 to finish the tournament at 6-over. Luck, the other amateur to make the cut, shot 72 and finished at 9-over-par.
“I had chills from about 75 yards out, and to have everyone here to support me,” said Hagestad, a Southern Cal alum who will celebrate his 26th birthday Monday.
He became the first Mid-Am champion to win the Silver Cup since the Mid-Amateur winner was first granted an exemption to Augusta in 1989.
Hagestad had a group of about 30 friends and family following him all week, including his parents.
His father, John Hagestad, said he took Stewart golfing for the first time when he was about 4 years old.
“It’s probably the greatest feeling I have had since he was born,” said John Hagestad, who lives in Orange County, Calif. “To win this is a validation, a reward for all the hard work he has put in.”
Hagestad plans to start grad school at the end of July, but he will continue in his quest to make the Walker Cup team by playing the U.S. Amateur. If he doesn’t qualify for the U.S. Open through sectionals, he’ll play the British Amateur.
Luck got red hot on the second nine, knocking a 9-iron on No. 12 to four feet to start a string of four consecutive birdies. But he bogeyed the 18th and didn’t have quite enough to catch Hagestad.
Now the 20-year-old from Perth, Australia, will give up his ranking at the No. 1 amateur in the world and turn pro.
“It’s been a long time. I started playing competitive golf when I was about 14 or 15,” Luck said.
Luck has already signed a contract with IMG, and he will make his pro debut in two weeks at the Valero Texas Open.