Stewart Hagestad and Caddie Peter Kiley celebrate a 5-up lead
, 30, of Newport Beach, Calif., won his semifinal match in convincing fashion on Thursday morning, then took a 5-up lead over Mark Costanza
, 32, of Morristown, N.J., in the first 18 holes of the final match of the 40th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Sankaty Head Golf Club.
The second 18 holes of the 36-hole final will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, the championship having been delayed several hours by fog during Round 1 of stroke play on Saturday.
“It’s the mindset in match play, where you have to assume the other guy is going to do the unthinkable or always hit the really good shot and knock it in there close,” said Costanza, who played at St. John’s University. “Even though that’s your mindset, the other guy doesn’t always do it, but he [Hagestad] seemed to do it today. Good playing by him.”
Through 11 holes, Hagestad had amassed a 7-up lead, but Costanza, the 2020 Metropolitan Golf Association and New Jersey Player of the Year, steadied himself and won two of the final seven holes to end the day with a less daunting 5-down deficit. Costanza won Nos. 12 and 18 with pars and made a couple of other par-saving putts to halve holes.
“I haven’t done a thing,” said Hagestad, who improved his match-play record in this championship to 19-3 with his 4-and-3 win over No. 64 seed Hayes Brown on Thursday morning. “[Costanza] gave me a couple holes early, but he’s got a ton of firepower. It’s a good start, but it’s not much more than that.”
Costanza got off to a rocky start, hooking his tee shot on the par-4 opening hole to lose his ball and the hole with a double bogey. After the players tied three holes with pars, Hagestad won the par-4 fifth hole with a short birdie putt and the par-3 sixth when Costanza made bogey from a greenside bunker. The lead grew to 7 holes when Hagestad reeled off four consecutive winning birdies on Nos. 8-11 – a two-putt birdie on the par-5 eighth, a conceded birdie after Costanza missed his par putt on No. 9, and short birdie putts after impressive approach shots on Nos. 10 and 11.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur trophy
Hagestad, the 2016 champion who is competing in his second final, ended the improbable run of Brown, 32, of Charlotte, N.C., in the morning. With four match wins this week, Brown had already won two more matches than any previous No. 64 seed in this championship, and he was bidding to become the first No. 64 player to win any USGA championship since seeding began in match-play championships in the mid-1980s.
“[Hagestad] really makes no mistakes. He was hitting greens, and it’s hard to gain ground unless you're making a bunch of birdies. In that wind, birdies are definitely tough to come by,” said Brown, who began his run of victories by knocking off the medalist, Yaroslav Merkulov, 1 up, on Tuesday.
Costanza earned his spot in the final with a 2-and-1 victory on Thursday morning over Nick Maccario of Haverhill, Mass. Costanza, who is competing in just his second USGA championship, got married on Sept. 18 and his wife, Meredith, is caddieing for him this week. His win thwarted the bid of the 59th-seeded player from the Bay State, who also got into match play via the same playoff as Brown.
“On the first nine, I hit a lot of good putts that I thought were going to go in that didn’t go in, and he played phenomenal – he made no bogeys and shot 4 under,” said Maccario of Costanza. “At the beginning of the back nine, I said, I have to do to him what he did to me, more or less. I made two or three birdies on the back side, and he matched them for the most part.”
The final match will continue on Friday at 7:30 a.m. Admission is free and spectators are welcome. The champion will earn a gold medal and possession of the Robert T. Jones Memorial Trophy for one year, as well as an exemption into the 2022 U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., the 2022 Masters Tournament, the next 10 U.S. Mid-Amateurs and the next two U.S. Amateurs, along with other exemptions. The runner-up will receive a silver medal as well as an exemption into the next three U.S. Mid-Amateurs and the 2022 U.S. Amateur, among other exemptions.
ABOUT THE U.S. Mid-Amateur
The U.S. Mid-Amateur originated in 1981 for the
amateur golfer of at least 25 years of age, the
purpose of which to provide a formal national
championship for the post-college player. 264
begin the championship with two rounds of sroke
qualifying held at two courses, after which the low
(with a playoff if necessary to get the exact number)
advance to single elimination match play.
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