So how does Newport Beach's Stewart Hagestad prepare for his fourth United States Amateur Championship in the last five years?
Answer: Win four matches to reach the final of the fifth Southern California Golf Association Match Play Championships at Sandpiper Golf Club in Goleta.
Hagestad, a Big Canyon Country Club member and incoming USC senior, took Notre Dame's Niall Platt to the 17th hole in Wednesday's final before Platt pulled out a two-and-one victory.
Platt took the early lead on Hagestad with a birdie and eagle in the first five holes. Hagestad, playing the course for the first time this week, birdied the first hole and remained on Platt's heels. Hagestad parred the 13th hole, a 532-yard par-five, to trim Platt's lead to one up. Platt regained the lead for good with a par on the par-five 15th hole, while Hagestad bogeyed.
The tournament started Monday with 32 players, four of whom will play in the U.S. Amateur that begins Monday at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
Hagestad defeated the second and third seeds during the SCGA Match Play event, and also won a match against this year's Los Angeles City Champion, Alex Angard, two up.
"It was fun," Hagestad said. "I played well and had a hot start [in the match play final against Platt]. Match play has more pressure and it's an intense atmosphere. Every single match went down to the last three holes. I did everything to my expectations. At the same time, I expect a lot of myself. I expect to make every [putt] I hit.
"I'm bummed that I lost, but now I'm going to get ready for the U.S. Amateur."
Hagestad, who placed fourth at last month's SCGA Amateur Championship at Big Canyon, will be among a field of 312 golfers who will tee off Monday at Cherry Hills and CommonGround Golf Course. Golfers will play 36 holes of stroke play Monday and Tuesday. After Tuesday's round, the field will be trimmed to 64 golfers who will compete in match play until the 36-hole final Aug. 19.
Hagestad, who stands 6-foot-5, has made a habit of competing in U.S. Amateurs. He was medalist at 136 (two-round total) in a qualifier at Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda, Mont., on July 16.
Tournaments like the SCGA Match Play provide pressure Hagestad believes makes him better.
He spent Thursday practicing before traveling to Colorado on Friday.
"The U.S. Amateur has always meant a lot to me," Hagestad said. "I'll be as good as ready to compete."
Hagestad tees off on No. 10 at CommonGround at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Brian Campbell of Irvine is also in the U.S. Amateur field. Campbell (138 for two rounds) was medalist and one of three qualifiers from play at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga on July 16.
Campbell begins on the first hole at CommonGround at 1:45 p.m. Monday.
The U.S. Amateur is open to golfers with a USGA handicap of 2.4 or better.
In addition to the championship flight, winners were crowned in four other divisions at the 40th Will Jordan Classic at Costa Mesa Country Club last weekend.
In the senior flight (gross), Andy Horner and Jeff Thomas tied for first at 145 with identical scores on both Los Lagos (74) and Mesa Linda (71). Lou Beshoff (76-70) and Howdy Doan (75-71) tied for third at 146 while Tommy Lacerra (78-69—147) finished fifth.
Lacerra's scores were good enough to claim the championship of the senior flight (net). Lacerra had a three handicap for both Los Lagos and Mesa Linda, making his net scores (75-66—141) for the two courses. Jim George (74-68), playing in his 39th Will Jordan Classic, took second at 142. Peter Daley (77-66) placed third at 143 while Kris Docken (75-69) and Bill Lyon (75-69) tied for fourth at 144.
In the first flight (net), Patrick Woodward took the top prize with 74 on Los Lagos and 64 on Mesa Linda for a two-round total of 138. Woodward's handicap on both courses was six. John Meehan (72-67) and Roy Stock (67-72) tied for second at 139 while Michael Aguallo (70-72) and David Rutkoski (79-63) tied for fourth at 142.
Justin Fong won the second flight (net) with adjusted scores of 68 on Los Lagos and 66 on Mesa Linda for 134. Fong had a 12 handicap for both courses. Scott Atlas (67-68) and Wayne Chumbley (67-68) tied for second while Louie DiMaria (68-68) placed fourth at 136. John Crutsinger (72-65) came in fifth at 137.
For the record: Ed Susolik is a member of Mesa Verde Country Club, not Big Canyon as reported in the Aug. 5 edition of the Daily Pilot.
Costa Mesa Country Club teaching pro John Ortega will hold a golf camp for boys and girls ages 4 to 17 Aug. 27 through 30 at the club.
The camp, for beginning and intermediate players, costs $125 and includes instruction, and a pizza party and round of golf on Aug. 30.
The camp runs from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday (golf and pizza party).
For information or a registration form, visit http://www.costamesacountryclub.com. Click on "Golf Instruction," then on "2012 Junior Golf Session" to view the registration form. The course's phone number is (714) 540-7500.
Reach BRYCE ALDERTON, Daily Pilot golf writer, at email@example.com