Hagestad claims 114th Met Amateur Championship in 38 holes over Ethan Ng
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (August 7, 2016) – The final match of the 114th Met Amateur Championship provided a thrilling finish Sunday at Country Club of Fairfield, as Stewart Hagestad of Deepdale outlasted Ethan Ng of Fiddler’s Elbow in 38 holes, claiming the title with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 second hole. The victory for Hagestad capped off an outstanding week, in which the 25-year old fired an overall MGA-championship record 9-under 61, before also setting a new on-site qualifying record (15-under/125) for the Met Amateur.
“That trophy is unbelievable,” admired Hagestad after reading the names etched in the trophy for the second-oldest amateur championship in the country. “Some of the names that are on that, from Mr. Zahringer to Mr. Siderowf, to Johnson Wagner to [Walter] Travis, you go on and on. It’s a laundry list of some of the best amateurs in not only the history of the MGA or the country, but all-time.”
The entirety of the championship match provided excitement, but action down the stretch truly made the final one to remember as the two players went shot-for-shot, when even the most minimal mistakes led to lost holes.
Ng found water on the par-3 fourth in the afternoon, with Hagestad’s conceded birdie leading the native Californian to a 2-up advantage—the largest of the entire match. However, Ng’ responded with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6 and 7—the 24th and 25th holes of the match—to pull even once again.
“He just brought it from the beginning of the round,” remarked Hagestad about his 16-year-old opponent who claimed the Carter Cup on Wednesday and played 10 competitive rounds of golf since Tuesday. “I played as hard as I could. I did the best I could to kind of keep up and respond to what he was doing. It was a fun day—it was a fun week.”
Hagestad—who became the first player to take both medalist honors and the overall championship at the Met Am since Tommy McDonagh in 2008— reclaimed a 1-up lead with birdie on the par-5 eighth, before the following seven holes were halved. That stretch included a pair of quality up-and-downs for Hagestad on the par-3 ninth and 11th holes.
“When you’re kind of juiced up on adrenaline and both guys are hitting it well and making some putts, you can’t really afford to make any mistakes or give holes away,” said Hagestad. “There were a couple not so much turning points, as it was moments I was proud of the way I grinded—getting up and down on nine and 11.”
When Hagestad’s drive on the par-4 16th found a hazard, Ng capitalized with birdie to square the match through 34 holes, knocking his approach from 105 yards to eight feet. Both had mid-range birdie putts over the next two holes, but couldn’t convert to finish off the match.
Heading to the par-5 first as the 37th hole, Hagestad found the left rough, but muscled the approach from 225 yards to the back of the green. Ng had a similar distance and left it short, with his following pitch running out to about 14 feet. Hagestad easily two-putted for birdie, but Ng answered, feeding his putt right into the center of the cup to keep the match going.
“There was never a doubt in my mind he was going to make that birdie putt on one,” Hagestad said. “The whole day the kid just kept making putts.”
Both had birdie putts again on the par-4 second. Ng’s 20-footer slid just past, while Hagestad seized the opportunity, dying his 15-footer in the heart of the cup to claim his first MGA title.
“I’m going to cherish this one for a little bit,” said Hagestad. “I couldn’t be more proud to have the opportunity to be the Met Amateur champion.”
Though this is just Hagestad’s second season competing in MGA event’s he’s been a constant on leaderboards of the biggest events and is proud to get his first victory under his belt.
“There was some motivation that was there coming off of last season,” he said, reflecting on a runner-up finish in the Ike and a semifinal appearance in the Met Amateur in 2015. “It was good to push me to try and get a little bit better.”
The morning portion of the match also had plenty of excitement, with the pair combining for six birdies over the opening 10 holes and the lead changing hand multiple times. Ng notched birdies on Nos. 1, 3 and 9, while Hagestad claimed Nos. 5, 6 and 10 with birdies, to put the match all square through 10. Six halves followed on Nos. 11-16, before Ng birdied the par-3 17th for a 1-up lead. It was short-lived though as his approach to 18 zipped off the front of the green and Hagestad’s par squared the match through the first 18.
With the win, Hagestad earns 275 Player of the Year points and is exempt into the Met Am for the next five years.
Country Club of Fairfield was an outstanding host for the 114th Met Amateur. It’s fantastic Seth Raynor layout on the Long Island Sound provided a quality test for both the on-site, stroke-play qualifying, while its variety in length led to excitement in the match play format.
Next year’s Met Amateur will take place at Laurel Links Country Club in Laurel, N.Y.