Virgen: Hagestad has strong desire to win

There's an intriguing mix of competitiveness, a hunger for business and an outgoing mentality when it comes to Stewart Hagestad.

You can say the Newport Beach resident has an extraordinary ability to compartmentalize. This week, he'll turn his attention to the golf course and light his competitive fire.

Hagestad will play in his fifth U.S. Amateur Championship, starting Monday at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

If you ask him about his career path it doesn't really involve playing as a pro. The 22-year-old is a semester away from earning his degree at the USC Marshall School of Business, concentrating on real estate finance.

But ask him about the U.S. Am and he'll give you an answer that shows he's all about golf.

What's his goal at the U.S. Am?

"Win," he said. "I want to win medalist after the first two days. Go to match play, hit greens and if you miss greens get up and down. I've played at the US Am before. I know what it takes to play well. It's a long week.

"You're not going at the process the right way if you're not thinking you're going to be holding the trophy and talking to Johnny Miller on TV at the end. You know? It's basically the biggest amateur [tournament] in the world. You have to see yourself playing at the highest level."

He was certainly playing at a high level July 22, when he qualified for the US Am out of Mission Viejo Country Club. Hagestad grabbed the third and final qualifying spot after shooting three-under-par 139. He shot 68-71 in the two rounds.

Karick Brown, who will be a senior at Corona del Mar High, finished as the first alternate at the US Am qualifier at Bakersfield Country Club July 29. Brown was fourth after shooting 72-71 for a one-under 143.

Ahmed Eltamami, a former Sage Hill School standout, also finished as the first alternate at the US Am qualifier at TPC Valencia.

Brown and Eltamami are not in the field this week.

Hagestad is obviously excited to return to his fifth US Am. He said in his first-year experience at the event, he played like a deer in headlights.

He bounced back and nearly qualified for match play the second time he played the US Am. He hasn't made it to match play and hopes to do so this week.

Away from the golf course, Hagestad recently completed an internship and he remains confident about finding the right job for him.

But all that stuff doesn't enter his mind when he's on the links.

"I don't show up just happy to play," said Hagestad, a Big Canyon Country Club member, who practiced there before leaving for Brookline on Friday. "I've been lucky enough to play with some of the best players in the country. [The business career is] a goal for the future. You can't really change your expectations on the golf course regardless whether you're working or not."

Media types or even the casual golf fan would've thought Hagestad was wanting a pro golf career seven years ago when he left Sage Hill after his freshman year.

He then attended the then-International Junior Golf Academy, which is now the Hank Haney IJGA, in South Carolina.

"At the time that's maybe how it looked, that I was at it trying to become a pro," Hagestad said. "But I just wanted to go to college. I might've looked long-term, sure I guess, but at the end of the day I was looking to get into college."

And for college, Hagestad had always dreamed to go to USC.

I asked him when he started to get the idea to become a Trojan.

"Right about the time I came out of the womb," he joked.

Hagestad's father, John, who is in Brookline to watch his son, went to USC. Hagestad's mother, Merry, went to Stanford.

Hagestad fell in love with USC as a child. But the entire family isn't all about USC. His sister, Leigh, will be a junior at Stanford in the fall.

Hagestad had to go with USC. And, he has had no regrets.

"It's been a blast," Hagestad said of USC. "I have the best friends in the world. I have an education that you can bring to the table in any walk of life. Ask any Trojan in the world. It's a blast. I'm happy to be a part of the Trojan family. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything."

Hagestad is on Twitter, @drinksonstew. His tweets range on topics from golf to pop culture. But when the fall season rolls around, he'll be tweeting about USC football.

"Let's just say I'm looking forward to the football season," he said. "I know where my priorities lie on Saturday mornings in the fall. I can tell you one thing I'm not practicing."

After USC, Hagestad will move on to his career. He says he has thoughts of settling in New York or living in Los Angeles. He's still thinking about it.

Whatever he chooses, something tells me it will still involve golf.

"I'll be lucky to get a job where I have to work hard and love what I do and work with people I like," he said. "If I can play some golf in there it's just a bonus."

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