Stewart Hagestad wins Masters low-amateur honors day before 26th birthday

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Stewart Hagestad wins Masters low-amateur honors day before 26th birthday

PGA Tour

Stewart Hagestad wins Masters low-amateur honors day before 26th birthday

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Even with low-amateur honors on the line on a perfect final day at the 81st Masters, Stewart Hagestad made a point to enjoy the moment, no matter what. So as he stood in the 10th fairway, just a shot ahead of fellow amateur Curtis Luck on the leaderboard, he turned to his caddie and put things in perspective.

“I just kind of said, ‘Hey, we’re playing Augusta National on Sunday afternoon, the day before my birthday, and it’s a perfect day. It doesn’t get much better than this,’ ” Hagestad said. “Obviously, low amateur was important to me and it was a huge goal, but I think one part of getting older is that there’s so much more to it than that.”

Hagestad turns 26 years old on Monday and he plans to enjoy his birthday with a nice steak dinner with family and friends. They’ll have plenty to celebrate.

Two days after becoming the first U.S. Mid-Amateur champion since 1989 to make the cut at the Masters, Hagestad shot 1-over 73 Sunday to cap a 6-over performance this week, three shots better than Luck.

“It’s a dream come true,” Hagestad said about being low amateur. “It’s something I’ve long thought about and to have it come to fruition is an absolute dream come true.”

Hagestad didn’t know where he stood until after he hit his second shot into the 18th green. Probably for the best. After a 2-over 38 on the front nine, Hagestad made things interesting as Luck had finished his tournament at 9 over. But birdies at Nos. 10, 13 and 14 gave Hagestad a nice cushion, and as he walked toward the 18th green, he knew.

“After I hit the shot, (my caddie) kind of pulled me aside and he told me, ‘Hey, slow down. Make sure to enjoy this walk,’ ” Hagestad said.

“I had chills from about 75 yards out and to have everyone just here to support me, what an honor. I mean, this is absolutely why you play the game and why you practice and it’s a really, really special week for me and I’m sure the emotions will hit me here at some point.”

Hagestad had about 35 family members and friends following him this week, including some buddies who spent the week coordinating matching outfits and rooting on their friend vigorously.

“They firmly, firmly believed that if they didn’t have fun, I wasn’t going to play well, “Hagesta said. “Hopefully they stuck to their part of the bargain, because I feel like I stuck to mine.”

That he did, and because of his performance this week in Augusta, Hagestad likely locked up his spot in the U.S. Walker Cup team. Even before this week, Hagestad was a good bet, having won the U.S. Mid-Amateur last year.

But Hagestad isn’t counting on bets or locks, which is why he’s going to play a full amateur schedule this summer. His next event will be the Coleman Invitational at the end of April. He also plans to play the Kerry Cup during a May trip to Ireland that also includes the Irish Amateur at Royal County Down. He’ll team up with former USC teammate and roommate Sam Smith at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open. If he doesn’t, he’ll play the British Amateur. If he doesn’t go far in that, he’ll come back for the Northeast Amateur.

Add in the Western Amateur and the U.S. Amateur, and Hagestad will have plenty of chances to show U.S. captain Spider Miller his stuff. He’s already showed a lot of it.

“Every event I play is an opportunity to prove myself against the best amateurs and the best professionals in the country, and if I can continue to resume build and to build my case, hopefully I’ll earn the opportunity to represent the United States,” Hagestad said. “But it’s not my decision and all I can do is to try and like I said, build my resume, build the case that I would be a good representative. … If they want me on the team, and I would love to be there, I would love the opportunity to represent the United States.”

He sure represented himself well this week at Augusta National.

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