- USGA photo
(Newport Beach, Calif.) has won his second U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, withstanding a charge from Mark Costanza
(Morristown, N.J.) and emerging with a 2&1 finals victory at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Siasconset, Mass.
The 36-hole final started yesterday afternoon after fog put the tournament off schedule earlier in the week. Hagestad's experience as a past champion and a three-time Walker Cupper made the difference early on, as he raced to a 7-up lead through just 11 holes. But Costanza stopped the bleeding with a win at the 12th, and won the final hole of the opening round to sit 5 down heading into the second 18.
The break proved to be just what Costanza needed, as he was a different player when play resumed early this morning. After only making one birdie (the par-5 17th) over the first 18, Costanza came out hot with early birdies at the 3rd and 5th, and when Hagestad bogeyed the par-3 6th, his lead was all the way down to two holes.
Suddenly it was Hagestad who could not make a birdie, and the two would both par the next six holes before Costanza trimmed the lead to one hole with a birdie at the par-4 13th. The two would both par the next two holes before Hagestad would finally get his first birdie of the day, only to be matched by Costanza to keep Hagestad's lead at 1 up with two holes to play.
At the par-5 17th, Costanza had a 10-foot birdie putt to put pressure on Hagestad, who had a 5-footer for birdie on a similar line. But Costanza missed, and when Hagestad converted the match was over. It was the only hole Hagestad won all morning, and the first win in 24 holes.
“[Costanza] gave me nothing the whole day,” said the 30-year-old Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., a second-year MBA student at the University of Southern California who improved his match-play record in this championship to 20-3. “I thought that at some point I would maybe get a break or he would give me a hole. I knew that he would come out swinging. He’s a really good player. I tried to go out and basically make him beat me, and he damn near did that.”
With the win, Hagestad is back on top of the mid-amateur golf world and earns return trips to the Masters (his second appearance) and U.S. Open (his fourth). It is further validation for Hagestad's decision not to turn pro even though he has the game to be successful at the pro level.
When Hagestad won his first U.S. Mid-Amateur
in 2016, he was the one making the furious comeback, rallying from four down with five holes to go to edge Scott Harvey in 37 holes. It was the springboard for everything that followed -- becoming the first
mid-amateur to make the cut in the Masters, low amateur
honors at the Masters, three straight
U.S. Open appearances, three Walker Cup appearances.
As for Costanza, he will take pride in his comeback but will rue his slow start that put him 7 down through 11 holes. From there, as he got more comfortable and found his game, he played the equivalent of five under par, but it proved to be too big of a hole to overcome. Still, he turned what appeared to be a runaway and turned it into a compelling final match against one of the best mid-amateurs of this generation.
“It’s tough because when you’re digging yourself out of a hole, you want to make birdies, but you know if you falter, you’re going deeper into the hole,” said Costanza. “You’ve got to keep the momentum going. I think I kept the honor the entire day. I made some clutch up-and-downs and I’m proud of myself.”
With no plans to turn pro, Hagestad has a chance to chase Nathan Smith's record of four U.S. Mid-Amateurs, and has the inside track to again represent the U.S. in the 2023 Walker Cup at St. Andrews, Scotland.
Mark Costanza, the runner-up, receives a silver medal, a three-year exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur and an exemption into the 2022 U.S. Amateur.
Costanza and his wife got married on Sept. 18, and they came to Nantucket a few days later to prepare for this championship, in which she caddied for him the entire way. Meredith was no stranger to the island, however, having vacationed here with her family since she was a child, in the village of Madaket. “I’m so thankful for her, and for her to be able to caddie for me has been amazing,” said Costanza. “Nantucket has been a special place for her since she was a little girl. We’ve been up here multiple times, and we're going to continue to come here. Now for sure it’s got a special place in my heart, too.”
Stewart Hagestad played 121 holes of match play this week in earning the title, including a 23-hole match vs. Stephen Behr Jr. in the Round of 16. That total ties for the fourth-most since this championship went to a 36-hole final in 2001. Austin Eaton III went 126 holes in his 2004 victory at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.; Randal Lewis went 124 holes in winning at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas, in 2011; and in 2019, Lukas Michel went 123 holes in winning at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. Hagestad ties Nathan Smith (in his 2012 win) and Steve Wilson (2008) at 121 holes.
The 2021 championship had a record 5,339 entries, breaking the mark of 5,271 from 1997. The 2022 championship is scheduled for Erin Hills, in Erin, Wis., from Sept. 10-15, with stroke play co-host Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in Wauwatosa, Wis. The 2023 championship is scheduled for Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, N.Y., and stroke play co-host Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y. from Sept. 9-14.
Mark Heartfield, the head professional at Sankaty Head and the host club’s championship liaison for the U.S. Mid-Am, is retiring effective at the end of the championship after 34 years at the club.
The USGA contributed to this report