Much like top-ranked amateur in the world, Patrick Cantlay, Stewart Hagestad, low amateur at the Masters, isn’t planning on turning pro. And further, he doesn’t know exactly what he is going to do with his life.
For we laypeople who can’t imagine breaking 120 at Augusta National and dream of playing professionally, it’s curious to see an individual who just proved he could compete with the best in the world taking a pass on playing pro golf. Hagestad tied for 36th at six over par at Augusta National. He’d earned a spot in the field thanks to winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur (which is like the U.S. Amateur, but for golfers over 25).
While he arrived in Georgia as a bundle of nerves, Hagestad was oddly serene as he did his best to top Curtis Luck as low amateur. Here’s what he reportedly told his caddie as he headed to the back nine Sunday, per Tim Rosaforte:
“It’s a beautiful Sunday, the day before my birthday, on the most special place on earth. Let’s go enjoy the walk and do the best I can.”
Is it surprising that a guy so at peace and playing so well in a major championship is going to business school, rather than the Web.com Tour? Perhaps. But at 26, if Hagestad, who played his college golf at USC, did qualify for the Web.com Tour next year, he’d likely be toiling on that circuit for a couple of seasons, honing his game for the PGA Tour.
In Hagestad’s mind, it seems the prospect of being a PGA Tour rookie in his late 20s or early 30s is inferior to, say, making a pile of money in the business world. He seems to be looking at his Masters finish mostly as an item for his B-school resume, hoping to be admitted to a top MBA program.
“This is a pretty significant bullet point on my résumé,” Hagestad told The Wall Street Journal.
Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary wants Hagestad to take a different route. He spoke to him on CNBC the other day and this is what he had to say: “Thank goodness we’ve met, I want you to take a different direction. On behalf of the millions of us that are really horrible golfers, you have an incredible opportunity. Please, I beg you, pursue the dream. Don’t go be another MBA, are you kidding?!”
The amateur is an avid watcher of O’Leary’s show and instead of getting caught up in what he was saying, he made a “counter offer” to have a sit down about joining one of his firms. While some see a wasted opportunity, Hagestad understands that he had a great day as an amateur, but he’s not going to let that influence the path it seems he’s chosen.
It’s worth mentioning that Hagestad’s performance was the best by a U.S. Mid-Amateur champ in Masters history. The Mid-Am champ has only been invited to the Masters since 1989, but no Mid-Am champ had ever made the cut at Augusta National.
While the decision to pass up a pro career is unfathomable for most, you have to respect Hagestad’s candor.
“I grew up in a real estate family but is it genuinely what I love to do? I think the answer to that right now is I just don’t know.”
Now that’s something most in their mid-20s can fathom.