Stewart Hagestad was comfortable at home (USGA/JD Cuban)
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (June 5, 2017) -- Stewart Hagestad
stood on the 18th tee at Big Canyon Country Club with a very good chance to qualify for the U.S. Open. A par would likely do it, but he didn't know at the time.
After hitting driver, 9-iron (yes 9-iron) onto the green of the 534-yard downhill dogleg-right hole with a stream guarding the green, Hagestad cooly two putted for birdie in front of a supportive crowd.
Hagestad grew up living on, and playing Big Canyon Country Club, and he recently won the club championship there. His family home overlooked the 18th green.
"That hole really suits my eye," said Hagestad in a text message (and we're sure he got a few texts today). "I hit fades."
Sure he does. Jack Nicklaus hit fades too.
The Newport Beach native posted 4-under 68 in the afternoon round at Big Canyon Country Club on top of the 4-under 67 he fashioned across the street at Newport Beach CC in the morning. At 8-under, that was 2-shots clear of the playoff at 6-under 137.
Hagestad, as you'll remember, was low amateur at the 2017 Masters in April, a tournament which he gained an invitation to as a result of winning the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur in a sudden-death final match victory over Scott Harvey.
And you know what? Harvey, playing 3-hours ahead in New Jersey had posted a course record 63 in the morning, and locked in his spot at Canoe Brook CC with a 71 in the afternoon. One Mid-Am qualifying, followed by another.
As Jim Nugent of Global Golf Post -- who had just posted an article lamenting the diminished influence of Mid-Ams -- wrote "Big day for amateur golf in America."
That's for sure. Our staff hasn't even calculated the number of amateurs in the field, but counting the exemptions it's going to be a great year. And two Mid-Ams, earning their way in by qualifying hasn't been done for quite some time. And the chances of Harvey and Hagestad being teammates on the USA Walker Cup team was already good. Now it's pretty much a lock.
THE OTHER FOUR AMATEURS
Medalist John Oda (Hawaii) put together an amazing 36-hole total of 11-under 132 – which included 13 birdies. Oda, a member of the UNLV men's golf team, is heading to his first major.
Mason Andersen’s 8-under 64 at Big Canyon – the low score of the day on that course – afforded him a nice cushion and he took advantage of it. Andersen, an 18 year old Arizona native who will be heading to Arizona State for his freshman season in the Fall. Somewhere a coach is very happy with his recruit.
Sahith Theegala, the Pepperdine University standout (and AmateurGolf.com standout) -- who qualified for the PGA Tour Genesis Open at Riviera in February -- shot 71 in the morning at Big Canyon before posting 11 threes in his afternoon round at Big Canyon on his way to a 7-under 65. Theegala double-bogeyed the par-5 second hole at Big Canyon but remained undaunted. “After my first round I really didn’t think I had any shot,” Theegala told the SCGA “So I decided to just have fun with my roommate and teammate Roy [Cootes] who was on the bag. I was playing free, started to strike it well and just put things together.”
The location was originally allotted five qualifying spots. Then, at 6 a.m. PDT, one hour prior to the start of the event, Newport Beach was granted a sixth qualifying spot after withdrawals in Columbus weakened their field.
Cameron Champ of Sacramento needed that final spot to avoid serious heartache. The Texas A&M golfer lit up Newport Beach CC in the morning with a flawless 8-birdie, bogey free 63 and seemed to keep the momentum going by getting to 10-under on the day through 3 holes of his afternoon round. Four bogeys later, and his round of 74 brought him from "easily in" to the bubble. With the sixth spot proving ever important, Champ went off with fellow amateur Brandon Wu.
Fighting a setting sun, Champ rolled in a 40-foot putt win the playoff and avoid wondering if he could have made one less bogey coming in.
The scorecard is wiped clean, it's off to Erin Hills.
The lone professional to qualify was Kevin Dougherty, an Oklahoma State alum and hometown friend of Rickie Fowler who needed an up-and-down on the final hole to secure his spot.
ABOUT THE U.S. Open Final Qualifying
Final qualifying for the U.S. Open Championship.
Played at various sites across the U.S. on the
week and half
before the U.S. Open. There is also a qualifier in
and in England. 36 holes of stroke play at each
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