During weeks like this one, Stewart Hagestad could use an agent.
If not for him, then certainly for his friends - a rambunctious group dubbed "Stew’s Crew" who reached out to their fearless leader for help once it was confirmed he'd qualified for this week's U.S. Open as an amateur.
"They all have full-time jobs. They have money. Let's be adults about this … just book your flights," Hagestad told theScore with a laugh while discussing his friends' apparent struggles with their travel plans.
The 27-year-old Californian, who worked in wealth management at Meryl Lynch until late May, will play in the U.S. Open for the second straight year as one of the 20 amateurs teeing it up.
But despite that amateur status, Hagestad - who played his collegiate golf at the University of South California - is as confident in his ability on the course as any of the professionals who tee it up weekly on the PGA Tour.
"Not to sound cocky but I've felt when the pressure is on I lock in a little bit more and play a little better," he said.
And Hagestad did just that while qualifying for the U.S. Open, shooting 2-over on the first nine holes of his qualifier before bouncing back to go 8-under across his final 27 holes to make it in by one shot.
It's impressive stuff given his recent background, but while Hagestad didn’t make any serious noise on the USC golf team, his pedigree hasn't gone unnoticed.
He played with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas - both of whom have topped golf's world rankings in the last few years - while growing up, even beating Spieth at an event on the Texas Junior Golf Tour, he recalled with a laugh.
At USC, Hagestad ended up getting a finance degree from the Marshall School of Business, enjoyed the full collegiate experience, joined a fraternity, and knew he wasn’t going to pursue golf as a full-time career.
Instead, he worked for some of the most prominent names in real estate and finance in New York and Los Angeles after graduating.
But through it all, Hagestad's continued to play golf on the side, and enjoyed a tremendously successful season in 2016, winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur and New York's Metropolitan Amateur. Thanks to his Mid-Amateur win, he played in the 2017 Masters, qualified for last year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, and was part of the victorious American Walker Cup team (an amateur team event that takes place every two years and pits the U.S. versus Great Britain and Ireland).
(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
He even made the cut at the Masters, becoming the first Mid-Amateur champion qualifier to pull off the feat. Hagestad ultimately finished tied for 36th in that event and earned low amateur honors, but said he still had no desire to turn professional.
Instead, he focused his efforts on playing the best golf he could, when he could.
Hagestad was working in New York for three years until 2016, but admitted it was hard to prepare for the Masters in the wintertime (he would hit balls at Golf & Body NYC, an indoor golf facility about 10 blocks from Times Square), so he moved home to California, where he's a member at Los Angeles Country Club (the host of the 2023 U.S. Open), and took a leave of absence from his job while applying to business schools to hopefully pursue his MBA this fall.
In the meantime, he's preparing for this weekend and added that qualifying for the U.S. Open last year made him even more motivated to play in another major championship.
"At the end of your career whether you're a pro or amateur … it's measured by big tournaments you win, big tournaments you play in, and what your finishes are in majors in any capacity," Hagestad said.
And if he can continue his excellent form in pressure moments, perhaps Hagestad can put on a show for his crew, which should be in fine form this week on Long Island.
"I have more than enough belief in my talent and ability that I can go out there and hopefully play with some of the big boys who do it for a living," he said.
Adam Stanley has written about golf since 2011 for PGATOUR.com, LPGA.com, and the Canadian Press, among other organizations. He's also a frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail. Find him on Twitter @adam_stanley.