Former Cal star Hagy ousted at British Amateur
PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Brandon Hagy’s dream of winning the British Amateur is over. The former University of California player lost his first-round match to Switzerland’s Mathias Eggenberger on the 20th hole.
Hagy was one of two Americans to lose in the opening round. LSU’s Myles Davis went down, 2 and 1, to medalist Daniel Brown of England. However, at sixth on the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and 22nd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Hagy was one of the favored players at Royal Portrush.
He’d still be in the draw if not for Eggenberger’s inspired play over the last three holes.
“He finished birdie, birdie, eagle and that’s pretty good golf,” Hagy said.
The recent Cal graduate was 1 up playing the 18th hole and looked to be heading for the second round when he hit his approach shot to 12 feet. However, Eggenberger holed from 15 feet and Hagy missed to force extra holes.
The 23-year-old Santa Monica resident hit his approach shot to 6 feet at the first extra hole. However, the Swiss player again holed a 15-footer to force Hagy to hole out for a half.
The match ended on the par-5 second hole when Hagy was forced to lay up short of the green from the right-hand rough, and Eggenberger hit a 6-iron approach from the fairway to 5 feet. Hagy shook hands when he failed to get up and down for birdie.
“I didn’t play great at the beginning or middle of the round today,” Hagy conceded. “It was a close match that I could have won so it’s unfortunate.”
Hagy now heads to England to prepare for next week's Palmer Cup at Walton Heath Golf Club. He will turn professional immediately afterwards.
Hagy wasn’t the only big name to bow out of the championship. World No. 6 Renato Paratore was the highest-ranked player in the field, but the Italian lost to Jordan Smith, 3 and 1.
“I got off to a bit of flier with five birdies in the first nine holes to go 4 up,” said Smith, a member of the GB&I 2013 Walker Cup team. “I just played steady from there on in. I played for fairways and greens because I didn’t have to do anything special after the front nine.
“I played with him in the qualifying rounds and he was awesome. He putted really well so I knew I was in for a really tough match.”
Fortunately, Smith turned his own putting game around to upset the precious Italian. “I couldn’t believe the length of putts I hole over the front nine. I putted really poorly in qualifying so I was surprised at how well I putted.”
University of Illinois player Thomas Detry, the World No. 12, lost 2 and 1 to England’s Paul Howard, the reigning South American Amateur champion. Scotland’s Grant Forrest, who plays for the University of San Diego, went out to unheralded Englishman Mark Geddes.
World No. 13 Mario Galiano of Spain fell to East Tennessee State's Rhys Pugh.
“I was very steady the whole round and managed to birdie the 10th and 11th holes after winning three holes from the sixth,” said Pugh, a two-time Walker Cup player from Wales. “I was fairly comfortable after that. I haven’t played great this season so far, but I’ve been pretty solid.”
TCU’s Julien Brun lost by one hole to Scotland’s Jamie Savage.
Daniel Brown is on course to become only the fourth medalist to win the Amateur Championship. The Englishman entered the knockout stages aware that the leading qualifier often loses in the first match-play round. Since qualifying was introduced in 1983, 16 players who led or shared the qualifying have lost their first-round matches.
“I was aware of the extra pressure as leading qualifier, but I tried not to let it cross my mind. I managed to do that quite well.”
Only Philip Parkin (1983), Warren Bladon (1996) and Matteo Manassero (2009) have won the Amateur Championship after winning the 36-hole qualifying.