Newport Beach resident and USC golfer Stewart Hagestad noticed two things as he competed in his third U.S. Amateur in the last four years.
"These kids are so good; they are basically professional amateur golfers," Hagestad said.
The other aspect Hagestad mentioned during his first two days of stroke play in Wisconsin was his afternoon tee times.
"With all due respect, I got the short end of the draw. I would have favored the morning round when it was not as windy. The first day I had a late tee time on the easiest course. The second day I was supposed to go in the morning, but didn't go off until 1 p.m. (due to a weather delay). After the front came through, it got real windy.
"Well, all you can control is yourself."
Hagestad, a junior for the Trojans, went 72-73—145, good for three-over par. The scores weren't good enough to make the cut, but Hagestad looks upon the result in a favorable light.
"My dad and I were eating dinner after the first round and I said if I can shoot even par I would get into match play. Well, I shot one-over. I had a pretty darn good score."
Hagestad played Blue Mound Golf & Country Club the first round and Erin Hills the second day. Erin Hills played 7,729 yards and had three par 5s measuring at least 500 yards.
"I wasn't quite as sharp as if I had played a real competitive summer schedule." Hagestad qualified for the U.S. Amateur by placing second at Big Canyon Country Club in July. He then finished second at the Costa Mesa city championship in early August."
In his mind, a course such as Erin Hills is in a different league.
"You're talking about a course with as firm of greens as Costa Mesa, but instead of hitting a wedge, I'm hitting seven- and six-irons into greens," Hagestad said.
The Mesa Linda course where Hagestad shot 62 in the Costa Mesa championship is just shy of 5,500 yards.
Hagestad is back to practicing in the mornings at USC (5:30 or 6:30 a.m. start times) until November when the Trojans play their first tournament of the new season. He eyes those matches against the men in blue and gold in Westwood.
"It would be great if we could compete with our crosstown rival because they've held the gold standard for the last couple years."
There's still room to play in the Els for Autism Golf Challenge Tuesday on Pelican Hill Golf Club's Ocean North Course.
The event is a fundraiser for the Els for Autism Foundation, spearheaded by three-time major winner Ernie Els and wife Liezl. The couple's 8-year-old son Ben has autism, a developmentalbrain disorder.
Golfers will compete in two-person teams with the low-net winning duo qualifying for the finals in Las Vegas October 23 and 24. The top fundraising team will also earn a spot at the finals, as will any pair that raises $10,000 or more.
Teams are encouraged to raise at least $2,500. Proceeds will in part help fund a Center of Excellence, a $30-million hub based in Palm Beach, Fla., that will provide autism education and medical and professional services.
This is an excerpt from the press release.
"Every once in a while, a cause resonates so profoundly that we need to respond," said Els. "Autism is such a cause for me because I know first-hand what families go through."
To sign up and gain more information, go to http://www.e4agolf.com.
Els will not be at Pelican Hill on Tuesday, according to Susan Hollo, executive director of Els For Autism.