Deep, eclectic field in place for Straight Down Fall Classic
Stewart Hagestad (USGA photo)
Stewart Hagestad (USGA photo)

Stewart Hagestad has added a new event to his schedule as he tunes up for a run at a second Walker Cup appearance.

Hagestad will play the Straight Down Fall Classic for the first time on Saturday and Sunday. He is paired with Tom Gardner, the director of golf at Los Angeles Country Club.

The Fall Classic is a scratch pro-am best-ball event that features a field of PGA Tour players, club pros and prominent amateurs. PGA Tour winners Jason Gore, Paul Stankowski, Scott Simpson, Loren Roberts, Steve Pate and Kevin Stadler are in the field, as are current Tour players Brandon Harkins and Tom Hoge and Tour winners Conrad Shindler and Edward Loar.

The tournament also has a strong amateur contingent. Hagestad isn’t the only former USGA champion competing at San Luis Obispo Country Club. Kevin Marsh, the 2005 U.S. Mid-Am champion, is playing with fellow Pepperdine alum Jason Gore. They won the Fall Classic in 2013 and shared the title with Tim Fleming and Alan Bratton in 2008. Brandt Snedeker and Bryson DeChambeau also played in this event as amateurs.

Two professional baseball players – the Cubs’ Ian Happ and former MLB All-Star Robin Ventura – also are among the Fall Classic’s amateur contingent.

The Fall Classic is Hagestad’s first tournament since making the semifinals of this year’s U.S. Mid-Am. He also advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. Those performances will undoubtedly help his case as he tries to qualify for the 2019 Walker Cup team. He’s the only member of the 2017 team that has not turned pro. The training session for potential 2019 team members will be held Dec. 14-18. The site has not been announced.

“I don’t play much this time of year,” Hagestad said. “After the Mid-Am, I put away my clubs for awhile.”

He did head to Palm Springs last week for some golf with his father and brothers. He said it was one of the first times he had touched his clubs since the Mid-Am.

As for 2019, Hagestad said he is still piecing together his schedule. The Coleman Invitational at Seminole Golf Club, U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Open qualifying are the only events currently on it. Hagestad has qualified for the past two U.S. Opens. He’s still deciding what other events to play in 2019. The Walker Cup is scheduled for Sept. 7-8 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

Here’s a look at some of the amateurs competing this weekend in the Straight Down Fall Classic.

Alan Bratton: Bratton is the head men’s golf coach at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys won the 2018 NCAA Championship with a lineup that included U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, the top-ranked player in college golf. Bratton shared the 1994 Jack Nicklaus Award, which is given to the top player in college golf, with future Tour winner Justin Leonard. Bratton also was a member of the 1995 Oklahoma State team that beat a Tiger Woods-led Stanford team in a playoff at the NCAA Championship. Bratton and Tim Fleming shared the 2008 Fall Classic with Gore and Marsh.

Tim Mickelson: Tim, the former golf coach at San Diego and Arizona State, now caddies for his brother, Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson. Tim is playing in the Fall Classic after helping his brother win last week’s match against Tiger Woods. Tim also was the college coach of European Ryder Cup team member Jon Rahm. Tim is playing the Fall Classic with Cal Poly golf coach Scott Cartwright.

Randy Haag: Haag won this year’s San Francisco Senior City and was runner-up in the British Senior Amateur, Northern California Senior Amateur Match Play and the California Senior Amateur Championship.

Ian Happ: The 23-year-old has hit 39 home runs for the Chicago Cubs over the past two seasons. He finished eighth in the 2017 Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .253 with 24 home runs. Happ carries a 0.4 handicap out of Spanish Oaks Country Club in Texas. His father, Keith, was a longtime USGA agronomist.

Kevin Marsh: The 2005 Mid-Am champ also is a two-time winner of the Fall Classic. He also is a three-time winner of the Stocker Cup, two-time winner of the Southern California Amateur and the 2012 California Amateur champion. He made the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Mid-Am.

John Pate: Pate is playing with his brother, former PGA TOUR winner and Ryder Cup participant Steve Pate. Steve played on the winning United States team in both the 1991 and 1999 Ryder Cups. John is a former winner of the Stocker Cup and the California Senior Amateur.

Mike Rowley: Straight Down’s owner also is the Fall Classic’s defending champion. This year, Rowley posted top 10s in the Southern California Mid-Am (8th), Trans-Mississippi Senior (9th), Southern California Senior Amateur (4th), Northern California Senior (6th) and California Senior Amateur (5th). He also finished 11th at the British Senior Amateur and made the Round of 32 at the U.S. Senior Amateur.

Corby Segal: Segal, the caddie for PGA TOUR player Brandon Hagy, won this year’s Kelly Cup at Lakeside Golf Club. He also finished second at the Southern California Mid-Amateur and third at the Southern California Amateur. He qualified for both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur this year, missing the cut in both. He won the 2016 Southern California Mid-Amateur. Segal is a two-time Fall Classic champion.

Robin Ventura: The former MLB All-Star is a 3.7 handicap. Ventura also was a six-time Gold Glove winner as a third baseman and first baseman. He was a career .267 hitter with 294 home runs while playing for the White Sox, Mets, Yankees and Dodgers. His brother, Rick, is the head professional at San Luis Obispo Country Club.

ABOUT THE Straight Down Fall Classic

Annual invitational event sponsored by apparel manufacturer Straight Down and supported by sponsor companies from the California Central Coast.

Format is one pro, paired with one amateur -- pros are PGA Club pros and members of various professional tours with enough "big names" to bring out thousands of spectators. And the spectators are rewarded with up- close access normally not found at a PGA Tour event. The ALS Foundation was named as the designated beneficiary in 2009.

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