Stewart Hagestad leads Curtis Luck in race for Masters low-amateur honors

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Stewart Hagestad leads Curtis Luck in race for Masters low-amateur honors

PGA Tour

Stewart Hagestad leads Curtis Luck in race for Masters low-amateur honors

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Stewart Hagestad had just driven his tee ball into the pine trees on Augusta National’s par-5 13th hole on Saturday afternoon, when he found himself in a conundrum for his second shot from the straw: 3-iron or driver?

He went with the crowd-pleaser.

“It really just came down to trying to keep it as low as I could,” Hagestad said. “Just kind of bunted a little driver out there and, candidly, I think that I thought about the two of them and I was kind of 50/50 in my head and thought the crowd would get a nice little kick out of hitting driver from the straw.”

Added Hagestad, who already has a group of about 35 family and friends following him: “Hopefully we gained a few more friends.”

Hagestad seemingly has all of Augusta National cheering him on this week at the 81st Masters – and for good reason. On Friday, he became the first U.S. Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut since 1989, the year the Masters started awarding an exemption to the Mid-Am winner. Then on Saturday, he posted a 2-over 74 to finish 54 holes at 5 over, four shots ahead of fellow amateur Curtis Luck of Australia.

Luck made four birdies as part of a third-round 75. Hagestad had three birdies, none more impressive than the up-and-down 4 on No. 15. Long and right in two shots, Hagestad slid his recently new wedge under the ball and flopped it way into the air. His ball landed in his target window and ended up 10 feet or so past the hole. After sinking the putt, Hagestad gave a big fist pump.

He would’ve given another one, too, after a great bunker shot when he was short-sided and nearly dead at the par-3 16th … “If I had made the putt,” Hagestad said.

With one round left at Augusta National, Hagestad doesn’t just want to win low-amateur honors, he wants to try to earn his way back to next year’s Masters with a top-12 finish. He knows he needs something really low, but hey, miracles can happen right?

Hagestad gave an example of the famous line from the movie “Miracle:” Great moments are born from great opportunity.

“Let’s go out there and hit a bunch of fairways and a bunch of greens,” Hagestad said, “and see if we can really make something special.”

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