Stewart Hagestad (USGA Photo)
It was a quiet Tuesday at the 42nd U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. While there was plenty of noise on the classic C.B. Macdonald design – the usual chatter among players, caddies, officials, and spectators – there wasn’t any crackling of thunder or loud blasts from airhorns.
Nobody from the USGA mentioned the words delay, suspension, or dangerous situation, and the on-site meteorologist didn’t need minute-by-minute consultations with officials for the first time since the championship commenced on Saturday.
Translated: The story was about golf, not precipitation, squeegees, or electricity.
After three days of storms that put a cramp into the schedule, the championship managed to get in two full rounds of match play that trimmed the field from 64 to 16 competitors.
Electricity might not have been in the clouds, but there were some fireworks on the course when two-time champion Stewart Hagestad
met Mark Costanza
, the runner-up to Hagestad two years ago at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, in the Round of 32.
Four-time Walker Cupper Hagestad, 32, of Newport Beach, Calif., outlasted Costanza, 34, of Morristown, N.J., 2 and 1, in an epic duel that featured 12 birdies, seven by the winner. Four holes were tied with birdies, with Hagestad winning three holes and Costanza one.
Costanza birdied the opening hole for a 1-up lead and held that margin until Hagestad birdied the par-3 10th, and he took the lead for good with a 4 on the 533-yard, par-5 12th hole. Hagestad closed out Costanza with an 82-yard, lob-wedge approach to 2 feet on the 424-yard, 17th.
When the two met in 2021, the score in the 36-hole final was the same 2-and-1 margin, with Costanza rallying from a 7-down deficit thru 11 holes to make Hagestad a bit uncomfortable coming down the stretch of a match that didn’t conclude until Friday because of fog delays that pushed back the schedule.
“I knew he would be a bit more prepared for this one,” said Hagestad, who helped the USA Walker Cup Team to a fourth consecutive victory last weekend on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland by posting a 2-1 record. “It’s not the finals, but at the same time, he knows that he is one of the better players in the field, and he’s very capable of making a deep run. I think maybe in the last few years he’s realized just how good he is. He’s got a ton of horsepower. He’s got a lot of speed. He wedges it nice. He hits it great. He putts it nice. Before we went off, I tried to collect myself because I knew it was going to be a good one.
“You know when you go play a guy like him, he’s going to bring it.”
Added Costanza: “You see the draw before you even play the first match. You think that you might match up again. There is certainly a revenge factor that I was seeking. I was ready to play. I played great. I think I can hold my head up high. I was 5 under with no bogeys, and he just beat me. He’s a great champion.”
The run of medalist and top seed Jeronimo Esteve
, of Puerto Rico, came to a halt in the Round of 32 with a 5-and-4 defeat to Brett Patterson
, of Oxford, Miss., a 31-year-old accounting professor at Ole Miss who is nearing his Ph.D. in accounting at the school. Patterson, a qualifier for last month’s U.S. Amateur, didn’t make a birdie over his first eight holes in bolting out to a 5-up lead. A birdie on No. 9 pushed the lead to 6 up, and even consecutive birdies on 11 and 12 by the seven-time Latin America Amateur competitor wasn’t enough to prevent Patterson from advancing.
“I know he didn’t have his best stuff today,” said Patterson, competing in his 12th USGA championship but first U.S. Mid-Amateur. “But this golf course can get you in a hurry and I kind of had the mantra of fairways and greens, and give myself a chance at birdie.”
The guy who edged Patterson in this year’s Mississippi Amateur, 2019 U.S. Mid-Am runner-up Joseph Deraney, 40, of Tupelo, birdied four of his first nine holes en route to a 4-and-3 victory over Nate Gahman, of Albany, Ga., in the Round of 32. Deraney, who captured his third Canadian Mid-Amateur title last month, pulled away by holing a miraculous flop shot from gnarly greenside rough on No 8 and then converting a 15-foot birdie on No. 9. When Gahman chopped into the lead with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Deraney responded with an impeccable 8-iron approach from 175 yards to 2 feet to push the margin to 4 up.
A little work with longtime club pro V.J. Trolio at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., just prior to his arrival in Metropolitan New York provided an extra boost of confidence for the stay-at-home father of three.
“For me, I always feel like I bring the pelvis towards the ball and the hands kind of go out,” said Deraney of his swing adjustment. “Just some mechanical stuff. But I’ve been doing it since I was 16, so it was pretty easy to clean up. But I putted much better than I did [in stroke play]. No three-putts today.”
Nick Maccario, 31, of Haverhill, Mass., a semifinalist in 2021, played just 32 holes on Tuesday and never trailed to make the final 16. In the Round of 32, he defeated 2022 quarterfinalist Bryce Hanstad, of Edina, Minn., 2 up. He eliminated Craig McCoy, of Frisco, Texas, in the Round of 64, 6 and 4.
Stephen Behr Jr., 30, of Atlanta, Ga. who had an epic 23-hole defeat to Hagestad in the Round of 16 of the 2021 Mid-Amateur, also produced a pair of wins on Tuesday, eliminated No. 10 seed Kevin Grady, of Catonsville, Md., in the second round, 3 and 2, after opening with a 1-up decision over Alejandro Villavicenzio, of Guatemala.
No. 3 seed Nate McCoy, 33, of Ankeny, Iowa, the director of handicapping and course rating for the Iowa Golf Association, pulled off a pair of 1-up wins to advance. In fact, he said the two best shots of the day came on No. 18, a 6-iron in the Round-of-64 win over Charles Soule, and the 5-iron from 187 yards to within 6 feet to set up a winning birdie against Andrew Sajevic, of Omaha, Neb.
But Todd White’s bid to add the U.S. Mid-Amateur to the U.S. Senior Amateur title he won on Aug. 31 at Martis Camp Club came to an end with a 2-and-1 loss in the Round of 16 to Jason Bataille, 40, of Bridgewater, N.J.
Due to impending weather, the Round-of-16 matches will go off both the first and 10th tees on Wednesday morning. The top half of the bracket will start on No. 1, and the lower half on No. 10, beginning at 7 a.m., and continuing every 10 minutes. The quarterfinals are scheduled for the afternoon. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend.