Don’t Count Out the Old Guys
A pair of mid-Amateurs with contrasting backgrounds advanced to the second round at the U.S. Amateur
By Jordan Perez
PARAMUS, N.J. — The U.S. Amateur typically is a week for the college kids; no mid-amateur has won the event since John Harris in 1993. Just advancing through the bracket can be an accomplishment. So take a bow, Stewart Hagestad and Andrew Von Lossow, who were among the 32 players to advance to the second round of match play on Wednesday at Ridgewood Country Club. It marked the first time in four years that two mid-amateurs (players at least 25 years of age) got past the first round.
Hagestad, 31, has made a habit of this. He is ranked ninth in the world and was exempt by virtue of a bevy of achievements (2021 Mid-Amateur champion, U.S. Walker Cup team, WAGR ranking, U.S. Open qualifier). He is playing the U.S. Amateur for the 13th time. Von Lossow, 34, is appearing in his first Amateur. The 3,580th-ranked amateur in the world, he had to survive a qualifier to get here, tying for medalist honors in Dupont, Wash. in early July.
Decked out in a clean-cut polo and khaki shorts, Hagestad knocked off British Amateur finalist Sam Bairstow, 3 and 1. Hagestad was 3 up through five holes, but the match was all square at the turn. He won the 11th hole with a par, then closed out the match with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. Hagestad offered only praise for his opponent, noting the level of competition lights a fire every time. “These guys are going to play professional golf and play in some big events for a long, long time,” he said. “I think it inspires me to kind of raise my game and to rise to the occasion.”
In May he received his MBA from USC, and he now works for a private equity firm in Chicago. He still likes to bump shoulders with “the kids,” as he calls them. He has his sights set on playing in the 2023 Walker Cup. “Do I feel like the old guy? Of course,” Hagestad said with a laugh. “I’d like to think physically I’m OK, and I’ve got enough reps under my belt that I’m at least competitive with them.”
Next up: a meeting with 19-year-old Benjamin James, the top-ranked junior in the country and the 45th-ranked amateur in the world. James will play golf at Virginia in the fall.
Von Lossow was hard to miss in his eye-catching floral polo, a nod to his day job as a graphic design consultant. His match was tied at the turn before he ran off three consecutive birdies in a 3-and-2 upset of Michael Thorbjornsen, the sixth-ranked amateur in the world. “This is my loudest shirt,” Von Lossow quipped. “I don’t know, maybe I’ll go red shorts or something. I don’t know if it’s turning into a signature.”
This isn’t Von Lossow’s first USGA championship. Back in May, he made a brief run at the Four-Ball. After shooting rounds of 74-71 this week, he survived a 15-for-11 playoff on Wednesday morning. He was the second-to-last player to get through, then drew Thorbjornsen, who finished fourth while teeing it up against the pros at the Travelers Championship in June. Von Lossow has been all business this week. Among other things, he sought advice from 2012 U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox, who was also the No. 63 seed when he won it all.
“These are majors for me — the course condition, the setup, how the event is run, it’s just world-class,” Von Lossow said. “And then you’ve got the world-class competition as well. It gets the juices going.” He will face Ben Carr in the Round of 32. Carr, ranked 70th in the world, is about to begin his super-senior season at Georgia Southern.
Will youthful fearlessness or veteran experience prevail at an already intriguing Amateur? Time will tell.