(March 7, 2017) -- With less than a month remaining before the Masters we were able to catch up with 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur winner Stewart Hagestad.
Hagestad, the youngest ever U.S. Mid-Amatuer winner, is currently preparing for Augusta National in Southern California and the former USC golfer is rearing to go and to test his game against the world's best.
Sam Dostaler: How is your preparation for the Masters going?
Stewart Hagestad: I'm pretty ready to play. I'm going to play in a couple of mini tour events just as an amateur in local stuff in California in the next couple of weeks just to post a score and play a tournament.
I [recently] played with a guy with a PGA Tour card and we both shot a few under and he drove it right next to me and I hit it just as good as those guys but obviously they do it on a every day basis [so to be able to] get some tournament reps under your belt is huge.
SD: What part of your game have you been working on most?
SH: Putting and chipping for sure. It's not exactly a secret on how undulating and challenging some of those greens are at [Augusta National] and having good speed inside 20-25, 25-30 feet and even ones you wouldn't think about from 12-14 feet is huge.
You really need to die everything in, your speed has to be there.
SD: You recently qualified for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball for the first time. What are your thoughts on playing in the event this spring?
SH: It's the first time I tried to qualify and I am fired up for [the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball]. It's a USGA event and as far as amateur tournaments, I don't think it has quite the prestige of the U.S. Amateur or U.S. Mid-Amateur but it is still a USGA event and they run the best tournaments out there.
They are the shining standard for how to run a golf tournament so I'm fired up to play in it. Everyone that I have talked to has said it is just such a fun, cool event. It's just awesome.
SD: What are you looking forward to most during Masters week?
SH: From an experience stand point and from a what will I remember for a longtime stand point probably playing the Par-3 Contest with my dad [John] on the bag. But I'm pretty fired up just to test my game against the best in the business.
SD: What have you learned from your practice rounds at Augusta National?
SH: You just learn little things every time you go down there. It's like playing any other course the more times you play it the more you get out of it but I think the learning curve at [Augusta National] is so steep that every time you play it you pick certain things up.
It's a very challenging golf course but you can also play to a lot of spots and if you are patient you can make pars and birdies. You can't get to aggressive and that maybe one of the reasons amateurs in the past don't play quite as well, because you are under the gun and it is a big event and your adrenaline is firing. I think a lot of guys, maybe myself included because I haven't played in it yet, but I think a lot of guys have had the tendency to play aggressive and think they have to make a lot birdies and play great.
Stewart Hagestad Player Profile
[But] it is like, well if you hit fairways and give yourself a bunch of 18-20 footers and stay patient I think a lot can be said for that.
But you definitely pick up things every time you go play it and there are definitely a lot of spots and one of the caddies said this to me last time I was there and it really resinated with me he said, 'I think a lot of people get really scared and tentative with the greens. While if you kind of know what you are doing and are out there a little bit you can kind of figure out how to use the slopes in an advantageous way. Maybe you won't hit it to three-four feet every time but maybe you use the slope to give yourself a six-footer.'
And I think a lot of guys like Phil [Mickelson], Tiger [Woods] guys that have been out there and have a bunch of experience out there, it is because they know and probably one of the reasons that people love watching it so much is because those guys know that they can use slopes and green undulations of their advantage.
-If you missed it last week we did a Q&A with U.S. Amateur runner-up Brad Dalke ahead of his Masters appearance.