Stewart Hagestad (Players Amateur photo)
Stewart Hagestad had such a large head start at the Players Amateur that he has been difficult to catch. Pursuers have had a good day here, a good day there, but at Berkeley Hall’s South Course in Bluffton, S.C., Hagestad is clearly setting the pace.
After rounds of 61 (a course record, by the way) and 66 to start the week, Hagestad followed with a third-round 68. He started the day by going 3 under in his first five holes.
Hagestad shrugged off the low round early week. There was a lot of golf left, he said, and it’s a strong field.
“It’s a good start, that’s really all it is,” Hagestad said.
It’s becoming more than that as Hagestad pulls farther and farther away. Before the Players Amateur, Hagestad last played the Northeast Amateur, where he finished runner-up to Garrett May, who just completed his eligibility at Baylor.
In Bluffton, Hagestad has a five-shot cushion on the next closest player, recent Duke graduate Alex Smalley. Smalley, the two-time Sunnehanna Amateur champion who is firmly on the Walker Cup watch list
alongside Hagestad, has slowly made up ground this week after an opening 69. He was bogey-free on Saturday for a second-round 64, which was the lowest round of the day. Smalley is 16 under for the tournament.
Smalley started the third round with a birdie on the first hole and took advantage of both the par fives on the front nine.
“I made birdies there, knocked them both on the green and two putted from long distances,” said the Greensboro, NC native. He finished the round with birdies on the final three holes. “It certainly feels good, it is a nice way to finish. The game feels really good, it’s nice to see some circles on the score card.”
Three men are tied for third at 14 under, including David Laskin, Will Grimmer and Tyler Strafaci.
ABOUT THE Players Amateur
While competing in the 1999 US Amateur
Championship at Pebble Beach, former US
Team members, Duke Delcher and Tom
discussed the formation of a premier 72-hole
play amateur golf tournament. The inaugural
Amateur was held the next summer. Former
Open Champion, Ben Curtis, was the winner of
2000 event. In 2004, the Heritage Classic
began running the event. The Heritage Classic
Foundation was formed in 1987 as a 501 (c) (3),
for-profit organization, it serves as the
and financial oversight group for the PGA Tour
Heritage Classic. The Foundation distributes all
charitable funds generated from the tournaments
charity. The winner of The Players Amateur gets
exemption into the PGA Tour RBC Heritage
well as the Master of the Amateurs tournament
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