Stewart Hagestad had plenty of reason to celebrate his 26th birthday on Monday.
Hagestad, a Newport Beach resident and former USC player, finished as the low amateur in his Masters debut that concluded Sunday at Augusta. He was also the first U.S. Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut at the Masters.
Hagestad, out of Big Canyon Country Club, shot 74-73-74-73 for a final score of six over.
He had taken a break as a financial analyst to prepare for the Masters. He worked in New York after USC. He plans to return to USC for graduate work.
Hagestad was told by his caddie that he had a three-stroke lead for low amateur has he walked up the 18th fairway on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"I had chills from about 75 yards out and to have everyone here to support me, what an honor," Hagestad told the Times. "This is absolutely why you play the game and why you practice. It's a really, really special week for me and I'm sure the emotions will hit me here at some point."
Hagestad was in the spotlight during the Masters as he captivated many with his amateur story and gritty play. He was interviewed by Jim Nantz after champion Sergio Garcia broke through for his first major victory by defeating Justin Rose on the first playoff hole.
Hagestad also congratulated Garcia, a former Masters low amateur.
During a TV interview, Nantz asked Hagestad how he was able to play so well at the Masters.
"I played within myself," Hagestad said. "I made very committed golf swings. I didn't make a double [bogey] all week. And, I think that was critical to keep me in it. Bogeys won't kill you, but doubles will. I stuck to my game plan and I played great this week."
Hagestad said he has no desire to turn pro.
He was featured in the Daily Pilot before leaving for Augusta.