Stewart Hagestad the toast of Augusta National after making Masters history

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Stewart Hagestad the toast of Augusta National after making Masters history

PGA Tour

Stewart Hagestad the toast of Augusta National after making Masters history

AUGUSTA, Ga. – I’d like to propose a toast!

The roars heard near Augusta National’s clubhouse were not sparked by a holed shot or a made birdie putt. No, these roars came from Stewart Hagestad’s friends and family, who, with plastic cups of adult beverages raised, toasted their beloved mid-amateur for making Masters history Friday.

Hagestad, a 25-year-old from Newport Beach, Calif., became the first U.S. Mid-Amateur winner to make the cut at Augusta National since 1989, the year the Masters began inviting the national mid-amateur champion. (Jay Sigel also made cut in 1988 after winning the 1987 U.S. Mid-Amateur, but his invite came via the Walker Cup.)

“I’m going to have some Facebook notifications today,” Hagestad said with a smile.

Hagestad didn’t just make the cut; he made it comfortably, by three shots, and he made it with style. After clipping a pine tree with his drive at the par-4 18th, Hagestad cut a 6-iron from the second cut and landed it on the front part of the green. As the ball took a big bounce some 20 feet past the hole, the gallery seemed unfazed by the performance. But when the ball started coming back down the slope and toward the hole, the patrons’ cheers heightened, culminating in a loud cry when Hagestad’s ball just missed the cup.

“My adrenaline was firing a little bit because I knew kind of where I stood,” Hagestad said, “and I obviously knew the history with mid-ams and the Masters, and that’s been something that’s been on my mind the whole week.”

It’s now a reality. Hagestad tapped in the birdie to finish off a 1-over 73. It was a round that saw Hagestad move inside the top 10 after birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 – his birdie at the par-3 fourth came after he stuck a 240-yard 3-iron.

“I kept waiting for my name to go up on the big board,” Hagestad said, “and then when it didn’t go, I was just like, ‘All right, well, you just try and convince yourself that you got to do a little bit better and you got to keep hitting good shots and try to keep making birdies.’ ”

He made just one birdie after that – and a huge up-and-down par at No. 10 after sinking a lengthy putt, one that he had coincidentally worked on with Ben Crenshaw and Carl Jackson during a practice round. But more importantly Hagestad finished 36 holes at 3 over, a remarkable achievement for Hagestad, a former hotshot junior who played sparingly at USC before graduating in 2013 and moving to New York City to start a career as a financial analyst for a real estate firm.

“He had a lot of good shots and made some good putts,” Hagestad’s playing competitor Larry Mize said. “I’m excited for him. He’s a nice young man, and I’m happy he’s going to be here on the weekend.”

Hagestad has since left his job and moved back to Southern California to focus on his golf and a potential Walker Cup spot. As the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and an invitee to last winter’s practice session at Los Angeles Country Club, Hagestad was already considered a good bet to make Spider Miller’s U.S. squad later this year. Making the cut at the Masters, some think, all but solidifies his spot.

Hagestad, however, knows nothing is guaranteed in this game. He’s going to continue to work hard and set goals to challenge himself. His goal this weekend at Augusta? It’s the same as its been all week.

“The goal to start the week was earn your way to have the opportunity to come back again next year,” Hagestad said.

For now, though, Hagestad will enjoy this year. He has a huge support system on hand this week and he spent more than an hour after his round talking and visiting with his family and friends near the clubhouse.

When asked how it felt to make the cut, Hagestad immediately thought about his loved ones.

“I’m fired up to go share the moment with my family and my friends that are staying here,” Hagestad said.

Cheers to Stew!

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