Stewart Hagestad nearly aces famous par-4, easily advances at U.S. Amateur
PARAMUS, N.J. – Stewart Hagestad was modest when asked about his 6-and-4 drumming of incoming Virginia freshman Benjamin James on Thursday morning at The Ridgewood Country Club.
“I played well,” said Hagestad as he plated some lunch, which he’d have a little extra time to consume – thanks to his quick work of James – before he’d head back out for his 2:30 p.m. match against Australia’s Hayden Hopewell in the Round of 16 of the U.S. Amateur.
It wasn’t that James played poorly, it’s just Hagestad, the two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and three-time Walker Cupper, was nearly flawless. The 31-year-old Hagestad birdied five of his first six holes, with his only par during that stretch coming at the par-5 third.
Even with the blazing start, though, Hagestad was just 2 up at that point. It wasn’t until the par-3 11th hole that Hagestad began to pull away. He closed with four straight birdies to close out the match on No. 14.
Hagestad’s highlight during his eight-birdie, one-eagle round came at Ridgewood’s most famous hole, the par-4 12th, also known as the “Five and Dime Hole” because former assistant pro Byron Nelson used to hit 5-iron and then pitching wedge (10-iron) into the short par-4, which played 278 yards on Thursday.
Hagestad skipped the layup and instead pulled out driver, knocking a nice cut onto the putting surface and then getting a little help from the rough, which killed some of his ball’s speed as it rolled into the thick stuff for a brief moment.
The end result was nearly an ace, though Hagestad’s gimme eagle putt would do just fine.
Hagestad has now won two matches at three U.S. Amateurs since 2018, when he made the Round of 16 at Pebble Beach. Hagestad advanced to the quarterfinals at Bandon Dunes in 2020, which remains his best finish in the USGA’s oldest championship.
If he plays like he did Thursday morning the rest of the way, however, he could go further into this match-play bracket.