Stewart Hagestad (USGA photo)
In a year where the new generation of mid-amateurs
made their mark, Stewart Hagestad
won the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Player of the Year points race by the narrowest of margins.
Since winning the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur, the 28-year-old has racked up the accomplishments, and his 2019 season was full of them. There were consistent high finishes, a rare U.S. Open feat, and a couple of strong performances for Team USA that helped bring home the hardware on foreign soil.
But as good as the year was, it could have been even better if a couple of Hagestad's close calls went his way.
He was in the mix at the Coleman Invitational at Seminole Golf Club but ultimately finished tied for third behind Scott Harvey.
He had four rounds in the 60s at Wannamoisett Country Club to finish as the runner-up to Garrett May in the Northeast Amateur.
Final Mid-Amateur Ranking, 2019
The one that got away from Hagestad was the Players Amateur, where he started with a course-record 61 and held the lead each of the first three days before stumbling in the final round with a 75 that left him as the runner-up to Spencer Ralston, who shot a 63 in the final round to come from 11 shots back to win by one. Unfortunately Hagestad will not have the opportunity to make amends, as the Players Amateur has been discontinued after a 20-year run
There were other accomplishments -- he made the championship (top 16) flight at the Crump Cup for the third straight year -- but what ultimately marked Hagestad's year was his performance in USGA events and his contribution to Team USA.
For the second straight year, he made match play at the U.S. Amateur. And, he made a deep run at Colorado Golf Club as he attempted to win his second U.S. Mid-Amateur in four years, losing in the semifinal to the eventual champion
, Lukas Michel of Australia.
But it was at the U.S. Open Sectional qualifier at Newport Beach (Calif.) Country Club that Hagestad made a little history, punching his ticket to Pebble Beach, where he would become the first amateur in 34 years
to play in three straight U.S. Open championships. Jay Sigel (1983-85) was the last to achieve the feat.
Playing for his country, he helped bring home the Walker Cup, compiling a 2-1 record as Team USA won on foreign soil
for the first time since 2007.
He also was a part of the Gold-Medal-winning Team USA at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru in the days leading up to the U.S. Amateur.
Despite what was a very successful year for Hagestad, he won the Player-of-the-Year points race by the smallest of margins. A look at the point standings shows a tie with Lukas Michel, who became the first international to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur and had many high finishes in his native Australia. But as Michel turned 25 (the age minimum for being a mid-amateur) in late January, so his points for the Australian Master of the Amateurs and the Australian Amateur were not earned when he was a mid-amateur.
Ireland's Caolan Rafferty was also within 50 points of Hagestad, due to a win in the West of Ireland and other high finishes all over the world -- England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Austria, and South Africa.
Garrett Rank of Canada was fourth, only 100 points back, on the strength of his Western Amateur win
-- the biggest win by a mid-amateur in many years -- and high finishes in tournaments like the Porter Cup, North & South, Monroe, Dogwood, and tournaments closer to home like the Canadian Mid-Amateur and Ontario Amateur.
Last year's Mid-Amateur Player of the Year
, Matt Parziale (Brockton, Mass.), finished 9th in the standings in 2019.