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August 13, 2019

Stewart Hagestad

Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina

Q. Stewart, 68 today, that brings a smile to your face, obviously. When you walked in you said you played really well in a nice way.
STEWART HAGESTAD: Yeah, that's the G version of it. Yeah, I played really well, and I think the last two years I've kind of begun to come to terms with just of all the tournaments I've played in, my first big tournament that I had ever played was ironically the U.S. Amateur in 2008 at Pinehurst, and I missed the cut, and I've always kind of put this particular tournament on a pedestal. I think I said it last year.

I think I did a little better job this year of caring less, if that makes any sense, but it still doesn't take away some of the nerves of going up against the best kids in not just the country but the world. I guess I don't need to say kids because Garrett Rank is not a kid. But yeah, it's the best amateurs in the world, and I'm just very fortunate to be moving on tomorrow, so I'm proud of that round for sure.

Q. The 2008 Amateur where you missed the cut, did you intentionally say, I want to come to Pinehurst in '19 and I want to do something for myself here?
STEWART HAGESTAD: I see where you're going with that. The answer is honestly no. But I have mentioned to J.D. that having the opportunity to be here this week and to play in the U.S. Amateur, I wanted to kind of leave for better or worse with a little bit better of a feeling, having proved something to myself. I mean, No. 2 is about as difficult as it gets. It's right up there with Shinnecock and Oakmont, and it's not getting any easier for the rest of the week. It's super crusty already, and if the wind blows it's super tough.

But that wasn't something I thought of, but at the same time I think if you asked me in four or five years, and even now, I can say it now, but I think as I look back as I get older, I'll kind of be able to have better memories of Pinehurst, or hopefully.

Q. Does being on the Walker Cup team already free you up?
STEWART HAGESTAD: Oh, my God. I mean, that is such a weight off your shoulders. It's something that you dream of that phone call and waking up on that day. I remember last time in LA I was -- I had made the cut in a major and I had done some cool things, and I knew I was in a good spot, but until you get that phone way, the way that people have kind of described it to me is it's almost like you've proposed, you're at the wedding, you're at the altar, but until she kind of walks down -- I'm not married, I couldn't relate, but that's kind of the comparison. Oh, my gosh, it's just such a freeing feeling. It literally feels like a weight has been lifted off. So no, without a doubt, it's very helpful.

Q. Does this one mean more than the last one?
STEWART HAGESTAD: That's a difficult question to answer without it sounded like a loaded answer, but I think --

Q. It's kind of a loaded question.
STEWART HAGESTAD: No, I mean, they're different. So I really wanted to make it at LA. First and foremost, I wanted to play on a Walker Cup team just to prove that to myself, and it was a goal that I had set for myself, that at the time I have a lot of friends that have told me sense, they were like, yeah, we heard that goal, and we weren't going to laugh at you, but we were essentially like, come on, that's so impossibly unrealistic, especially considering where my ranking was and where I was at the time.

But it's different, playing in LA in front of all the friends and family and being there, I put a lot of pressure on myself to play well and to compete, and you want to perform for -- forget the fact that it's the best amateurs in the country and the match itself, but there was almost another layer where it's somewhere you're very familiar with, where everyone I went to college with and grew up with was there. This one to me is different in the sense that I'll get to have a different experience, being overseas at a different golf course, one that I've never seen before. But more than that, just to me, it kind of validates maybe if I did nothing else in my amateur career, it kind of validates your spot as a pretty good player. And that -- one is a neat token that you had an opportunity to play on it, two is like, oh, you were pretty good.

It's an amazing accomplishment and one I'm super proud of. But I'm very much looking forward to not just the opportunity to go over there and to play and represent the United States and the USGA, but I've spent a lot of time talking to Nathan Smith about this and just maybe to kind of move more into hopefully a leadership role through my play but also kind of on and off the golf course. Anything I can do to help with those kids and to prepare them for that week, and then obviously for the future after, I just look forward to that challenge, and hopefully we can bring one back.

Q. Is the way you're playing this year as good as you've played?
STEWART HAGESTAD: What about it?

Q. I mean, your level of play, is it as good a level of play as you've had before in your career?
STEWART HAGESTAD: I've played really well. I think one thing I've done better this year than in other years is I'm a little bit more at peace with myself and I'm a little bit more patient. I got a little bit more frustrated and quick to get upset and be negative on myself. I obviously understand where you're getting at. If you look at the finishes and you look at kind of what you've done and you think, well, obviously you're playing some of the best golf of your life. I mean, I just think I've done a really nice job of preparing and I think I've done a nice job of kind of knowing that I'm good enough to go out there and to play with the best and ultimately and hopefully I'm good enough to win. There's not much that is really intimidating or that I haven't seen before without saying that in a cocky way. I just think I'm a little bit more experienced in the expectation category.

So I don't know if that completely answers your question. Is it the best I've ever played? I don't know.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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