Stewart Hagestad is ready for his third Masters
08 Apr 2024
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Stewart Hagestad Rankings

Stewart Hagestad will play in his seventh professional major. (Chris Trotman/The Masters)
Stewart Hagestad will play in his seventh professional major. (Chris Trotman/The Masters)

Stewart Hagestad will celebrate his 33rd birthday on Wednesday at The Masters. His mom will be on the bag for the par-3 contest.

“It rained my first year, so my dad got the call in 2022,” Hagestad said. “My mom will be with me this year.”

The Wednesday tradition at The Masters is often a family affair. Wives and kids and mothers and fathers dawn the caddie uniform and join their loved ones for a relaxed afternoon before they’re swept into the major golf maelstrom on Thursday.

It’s quite an achievement for an amateur to reach The Masters just once. For many, it’s the pinnacle of their golf life. Hagestad is usually in the company of amateurs younger than him at these professional majors. He punched his three tickets long after graduating from USC.

Hagetad is ranked No. 3 in the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Rankings.


His first Masters came in 2017 as a 25-year-old. He shot 74-73 in the opening rounds to make the cut with four shots to spare. He matched those scores on the weekend: 74 on Saturday and a 73 on Sunday. It was good enough to win low amateur.

He finished T36; he joined Sergio Garcia in Butler Cabin, soaked in the accomplishment, and then turned 26 the next day. He was the first U.S. Mid-Amateur winner to make the cut.

U.S. Mid-Amateur: Stewart Hagestad enters rarified air with his third USGA victory
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Stewart Hagestad wins his first Azalea Invitational

“It's a dream come true,” Hagestad said on that Sunday. “And it's something I've long thought about, and to have it all come to fruition is an absolute dream come true. Pretty special. The second trip to The Masters would come in 2022. It wasn’t as fruitful as the first as far as his result. Hagestad shot 79-81 and missed the cut along with all the amateurs in the field.

“I think the biggest difference is the first time around, you don't really know what you don't know,” Hagestad said in 2022. “This time you have a little bit better understanding of what it's going to feel like and what sort of moments or shots your adrenaline is going to be up.”

Strangely enough, the dates of The Masters in 2017 and 2022 were identical, meaning Hagestad’s birthday fell on the Monday following Masters. Birthdays cause us to reflect. Big moments cause us to reflect. When a birthday coincides with monumental moments, it can have quite an impact.

“I almost think I was more emotional for this one than for the first one. For the first one, you look back and you don't really understand or know the impact that it's made on your life,” Hagestad said. “For this one, I got to two semis in the Mid, and I got to quarters, and I lost to Tyler.”

Close calls can have two effects on a golfer. First, it can eat away at their confidence. Second, it can fuel a fire and nurture learning. Hagestad, who always seems to be in the hunt, uses competitive golf to get better.

To be fair, many people envision that Hagestad’s life is packed with golf and nothing else but to be fair to the talented Mid-Amateur, that isn’t entirely true. Since November, he’s competed twice. First in the Panama Games. Four months later, he pegged it for real in the Azalea. In between those events, Hagestad has been busy opening an office in Florida for his company.

“It’s not much different from being in New York,” Hagestad said. “It’s blowing twenty and raining every other day down here. I’m hitting balls in a simulator.”

He obviously stayed sharp over the winter months, and showed in his debut at the Azalea in March. Hagestad was looking for an event that would sharpen his game.

“It was a bonus that I was in contention and got some reps under pressure,” Hagestad said. “It was also great to play a 72-hole event.”

RELATED: Hagestad wins Azalea Invitational

Hagestad didn’t just play; he won, beating a strong field of college players, juniors, and a smattering of mid-amateurs. His opening round of 66 at CC of Charleston set the tone; he backed it up with a 69. The wire-to-wire win got stressful down the stretch, as Hagestad shot 71-70 the last two rounds while a cadre of golfers charged up the leaderboard but could never catch him.

“You want to play events that are going to be additive to the preparation,” Hagestad said. The timing and location were perfect for what he needed as he aims for another strong showing at The Masters.

What’s the goal for Hagestad in his third Masters?

“A goal of mine would be to have the chance to go into Sunday and make some noise because win, lose, or draw, that would be a ton of fun.”

Now, seven years removed from his first appearance, Hagestad isn’t taking anything for granted and he hopes to use his experience to earn another weekend tee time.

“I think I'm as comfortable as I've been in the past with the idea that I'm playing the tournament, and it's here,” Hagestad said. Of course, I'm going to do everything I can to prepare to try and play well, but if I don't, your life's probably not going to change too much.”

Hagestad has experienced playing well and not playing well at Augusta. He understands the difference but has a good perspective on the matter.

“I'm going to do everything I can and prepare the best way I know how in order to go and play great,” he said. “I know it's going to be a great week, but obviously, I played the weekends, and I've not played the weekend and you remember far more fondly when you play well.”

In 2017, as he reached Amen Corner, the thoughts about low amateur crept in. Even then, he found a way to enjoy the ride.

RELATED: U.S. Mid-Am: Stewart Hagestad enters rarified air with third win

“I told J.D. (Hagestad’s caddie) in the 10th fairway, ‘Hey, we're playing Augusta National on Sunday afternoon, the day before my birthday, and it's a perfect day. It doesn't get much better than this.’”

It certainly doesn’t.

“Obviously, low amateur was important to me and it was a huge goal, but I think one part of getting older is that there's so much more to it than that,” he said. “I was obviously going to walk in and go through everything I could do to play as well as I could, but I also felt like it was really, really important to go out and enjoy the day and enjoy the walk.”

Now, on the brink of playing in his seventh professional major as he’s about to turn 33, Hagestad understands the value of these moments not just for the “now” but for the future.

“It is a learning experience to kind of see where your game is at and to see how you handle that type of moment,” Hagestad said. “Whether you play well or play poorly, that's a great learning experience. If you don't play well, it can be tough to take for a little, but in the grand scheme of things, that's probably an amazing foundation and building block for the future.”

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