AUGUSTA, Ga. — Stewart Hagestad of Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset got to enjoy the walk onto the final green and then an even greater one, into Butler Cabin as the low amateur in the Masters. He earned a crystal trophy and a place in the history of a major tournament that dearly values amateurs as he finished 6 over par, beating Curtis Luck by three shots.
“It is a literal dream come true,” said the financial analyst from California who moved to New York three years ago and joined Deepdale to work on his game. He was solid from start to finish this week, never shooting a score worse than 2-over-par 74. Hagestad did not want to know how he stood against Luck, insisting he just wanted to relish 18 holes on a Sunday (on the eve of his 26th birthday) at Augusta National.
The reigning Met Amateur champion and Metropolitan Golf Association’s player of the year was told by his caddie, after having hit safely onto the final green, “Hey, slow down, make sure to enjoy this walk.”
He did. “I had chills from about 75 yards in,” Hagestad said.
Hagestad’s next major goal is to make the U.S. Walker Cup team, which seems very likely. His next big event will be the Carey Cup in Ireland May 16-18 as a member of the MGA team. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to see our player of the year shine in Augusta,” said MGA executive director Brian Mahoney, who was on hand to see it.
Kuchar aces the 16th
Matt Kuchar drew the loudest roar when his tee shot on No. 16 touched down right and slightly past the hole and then rolled gently into the cup for a hole-in-one. “What a thrill to have everybody flip out,” he said. What’s more, it flipped him temporarily into contention, three behind the leaders. He finished at 5 under, which fell short, but he left with a smile. “To have a chance to get in the mix, to be playing late in the day on Sunday. It was fun.”
Last dance for Els?
Ernie Els likely has played his last round at Augusta, with his exemption from the 2012 British Open victory expiring. His 20 over par finish diminished the nostalgia, but he did say, “How many professional golfers get the opportunity to play the Masters 23 times? And having a chance to win it a couple of times was special. I’ve won a lot of events around the world, but this one just eluded me.”