Harvey, Hagestad to Meet in 36-Hole Championship Match
September 14, 2016 | Elverson, Pa.
By Brian DePasquale, USGA
Scott Harvey, 38, of Greensboro, N.C., and Stewart Hagestad, 25, of Newport Beach, Calif., each won quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Wednesday to advance to Thursday’s 36-hole final match of the of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at Stonewall. The final is scheduled to begin at 7:45 a.m. EDT and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) from 3-5 p.m.
Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, edged Dan Sullivan, 49, of Pasadena, Calif., in their semifinal, winning in 19 holes. He is seeking to become the sixth multiple champion of the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Hagestad, who advanced to match play in a USGA championship for the first time after previously competing in seven U.S. Amateurs, recorded a 4-and-2 victory over Scott Strickland, 34, of Birmingham, Mich.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Harvey, who won his Mid-Amateur championship just one hour from Stonewall at Saucon Valley Country Club, in Bethlehem. “It’s what you come here for, and the prize is worth it.”
For the first time in USGA championship history, the stroke-play co-host course will be used in a 36-hole championship match. The final match’s morning round will be played on the par-70, 6,711-yard North Course, while the afternoon round will be held on the par-70, 6,870-yard Old Course.
Harvey, who nearly made a 9-foot par putt on No. 18 to close out the match, hit the green with his tee shot on the first extra hole, the 246-yard, par-3 ninth, while Sullivan found the front-right greenside bunker. Harvey two-putted from nearly 30 feet for the winning par.
“It’s a difficult hole, demanding hole,” said Harvey, who was a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team and has reached match play in all nine U.S. Mid-Amateurs played. “You better hit a good shot, and I’ve been able to do that so far.”
Sullivan, who reached the Round of 16 in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur, came from 2 down against Harvey on the inward nine. He took advantage of his opponent’s wayward tee shot on No. 13 to win the hole with a par and squared the match at the 496-yard, par-4 16th with a short par putt. But he halved No. 18 with a bogey when he pushed his 8-iron approach into the long grass facing above a greenside bunker.
“I think if I hit it on the line I was targeting, it would have made the green, but I left myself in a pretty unpleasant spot,” said Sullivan, who was playing in his ninth USGA championship. “I knew it wasn’t sitting on grass and I just went right underneath it.”
Hagestad, who has gone head-to-head with Harvey in two competitions this summer, including a stroke-play playoff in the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., broke open a tight semifinal match by winning the last three holes. He struck his approach shot to within six inches at the par-4 14th for a 2-up advantage and won with conceded pars on holes 15 and 16.
“I just played a little bit better golf,” said Hagestad, who lost to Harvey in a sudden-death playoff at the George C. Thomas Invitational at Los Angeles (Calif.) Country Club in June. “I knew that if I could kind of get it to the back nine and trust myself and commit to hitting good shots that hopefully I’d be okay.”
Hagestad was more than good on the par-3 ninth when he kept the match all square by extricating his ball from a greenside bunker and sinking a 25-footer for par. He would take a 1-up lead on the following hole with a conceded birdie after Strickland found trouble off the tee.
“There is a time to be conservative and time to go for the hero shot,” said Hagestad about his downhill lie from the bunker on the ninth. “The hero shot was just putting it on the green, let alone trying to put it close. Let’s just say I don’t really want to go do it again.”
In the quarterfinal round, Strickland defeated No. 1 seed Michael Muehr, 1 up, and was victorious in his fourth consecutive match that went to an 18th hole. He made a routine par while his opponent three-putted from off the green. In a back-and-forth match, Muehr, 44, of Potomac Falls, Va., regrouped from 2 down by winning holes 15 and 16. He sank a 3-foot par putt on the difficult par-4 16th.
“Had a great shot [to win] there on 18,” said Muehr, who played professionally on both the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour before being reinstated as an amateur. “I hadn’t played that hole since Saturday morning, so it’s been five days. It looked so fast, that putt and obviously left it way short, so disappointing.”
Hagestad moved past Michael McDermott, 41, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., 2 up, in the quarterfinals. He dropped the opening three holes but rallied and took the lead for good on No. 13 with a par. McDermott, the hometown favorite who was the runner-up in two Philadelphia Amateurs on the Old Course, had reached the quarterfinals with a pair of 1-up decisions and a 20-hole win in the Round of 64.
Harvey, the No. 3 seed who was a stroke-play co-medalist along with Muehr, won five of seven holes in the middle of his quarterfinal match with David May, 29, of Auburn, N.Y., for a 4-and-3 triumph. He was conceded birdie putts at Nos. 9, 10 and 11. On the 600-yard, par-5 11th, he struck a 56-degree wedge to within 10 feet.
Sullivan, who works as a real estate lender, won six consecutive holes on the outward nine en route to a 2-and-1 decision against Josh Irving, 29, of Dallas, Texas. Sullivan made a 12-footer for par on No. 5 and drilled a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-7 seventh to end that run. Irving, who made the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year, cut into the deficit by winning holes 11 through 14. But Sullivan made good use of his putter from the off the green to halve Nos. 16 and 17.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
“I wouldn’t say that anybody’s got an advantage,” said Harvey about his matchup with Hagestad. “I definitely have the experience, but he’s got the young cockiness and is in shape.”
The semifinalists, Strickland and Sullivan, receive a two-year exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur. The 2017 championship will be played Oct. 7-12 at the Capital City Club (Crabapple Course), in Atlanta, Ga.
Both finalists are exempt into the 2017 U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and are exempt into 2017 U.S. Open sectional qualifying. The champion also receives a likely invitation to the 2017 Masters.
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s manager of championship communications. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.