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Virgen: Hagestad ponders future

After the SCGA Amateur Championship ended on Sunday at Big Canyon Country Club, Stewart Hagestad talked about his next event.

But the U.S. Amateur Championship, Aug. 13-19 at Cherry Hills in Colorado, wasn't exactly the most pressing issue for him.

Hagestad, the Big Canyon member and Newport Beach resident, talked about his job after finishing tied for fourth at two-over-par 290, the lowest among locals in the SCGA Am.

Hagestad, an incoming senior at USC, was thinking about his internship. He's working at the Eastdil Secured satellite office in Irvine, where he's hoping to stay on with the real estate banking company.

"I'm sure they'll playfully tease me in the office," Hagestad said, referring to his finish.

He entered the final round three shots off eventual champion Bhavik Patel, and completed his worst round of the tournament, a 78. He went 70-73-69 in the first three rounds.

Maybe it was the quick reaction of disappointment about the round, but Hagestad said the internship was the most important task for him.

"I'm not turning pro after this so I have to do it," Hagestad said. "I want to finish the internship strong and I want the job after I'm done with school."

Hagestad said he loves golf now because it's still fun. When it isn't fun, he'll want to concentrate on a career, he said. He said he's heard the stories of young players seeking their PGA Tour card, living out of their cars and just doing enough to get by.

"Anyone who reads this, they might say 'quitter, you didn't want to give it a shot.' Well, cool. I've looked up to a lot of people in golf and amateur golf," Hagestad said. "It takes a lot to make it. Playing golf as a career would be a dream come true. But you look at the statistics. Not to sound cocky or full of myself, but I'm in the top level of amateurs. But the reality is in the world of great young golfers it might not be enough. Patrick Cantlay is a friend of mine. I wish him the best of luck. He is great and the thing is there are so many golfers like that."

Hagestad said he has discussed his future with his parents and is still thinking what to do. He said he will maybe go to qualifying school, "to check it out."

"If I have to play Bhavik again I don't know if I want to turn pro," Hagestad said in a playful tone. "I'm working on finishing my internship and looking forward to the football season."

Hagestad said he enjoyed playing the SCGA Am in front of his family and friends. Now it's back to work.

The SCGA Am was the first event in a long time that featured the Knapp brothers, Ryan and Jake, both former Estancia High standouts.

They said they enjoyed playing the same tournament, but they didn't really think about it while competing.

"He got me this week, but I'll be trying to get him next time," said Ryan Knapp, who finished tied for 16th at 12-over (74-75-74-77-300).

It's been an eventful summer for Ryan, who is entering his junior year at UCI.

Ryan won the SCGA Am qualifier last month at Oak Creek and recently won the Long Beach Open qualifier at Recreation Park.

"It's a pretty busy summer, but it's only because I've been qualifying for more tournaments, which is good," Ryan said. "I'm really excited [about UCI]. Mentally I'm in a much better place than I was last year with my game and how I approach it. I'm more comfortable and more relaxed out there."

At the SCGA Am, Ryan said he felt a bit disappointed. He thought he hit the ball well, but his short game wasn't what he wanted.

Jake, who will play for UCLA, rebounded well from a tough start at the SCGA Am. He finished strong tying for the low in the final round with Patel. He finished sixth at three-over (78-72-71-70-291).

"It was fun," Jake said of playing in the same event with his brother. "We haven't played against each other for a while. I enjoyed it. I don't really think about it on the course, but it's fun. We are always real supportive of each other. I think we'll be playing against each other some more."

Patel, the Fresno State alum, hopes he can follow the same path of last year's SCGA Am champ, which was Cantlay.

Patel sure looked like a pro during the SCGA Am, finishing at nine-under (71-71-67-70-279). It was a redeeming type of win for Patel, who most likely played in his last SCGA Am. Last year he finished fifth in the SCGA Am and as a 15-year-old in 2006 he was the runner-up when he lost to Scott McGihon by one stroke.

Patel could've been the youngest champ in SCGA history.

"That was a tough one to swallow," Patel said. "I've come a long way. My golf game has come a long way, so I'm very happy with this win. I came in here and I had a chip on my shoulder."

The 40th annual Will Jordan Classic, also known as the Costa Mesa City Championship, takes place Aug. 4 and 5 at Costa Mesa Country Club.

Competition applications can be found on Costa Mesa's website: costamesacountryclub.com/city-championship.

Registration has been extended to July 30, no later than 5 p.m. Jason Bittick, who now works for the Golf Channel, won last year's Costa Mesa City Championship. Hagestad was the runner-up.

Past champions of the event include Mark O'Mearaand Scott Simpson.

steve.virgen@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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