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Hagestad first mid-am to make Masters cut

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Masters has offered an exemption to the U.S. Mid-Amateur winner every year since 1989.

Stewart Hagestad on Friday became the first mid-am to make the cut.

Hagestad, who is on a leave as a financial analyst in New York City, shot rounds of 74-73 to play the weekend at the year’s first major.

“I’m fired up to go share the moment with my family and my friends that are staying here,” he said afterward.

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After graduating from Southern Cal in 2013, Hagestad moved to New York City to become a financial analyst. His golf career took off last summer, when he staged an improbable rally to defeat Scott Harvey at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Thanks to an accommodating boss at Oaktree Residential and Management, he has temporarily left his day job and spent the past few months preparing for the Masters.

Hagestad, 25, plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Walker Cup team (he seems a lock now) and then go to graduate school.

“As far as mid-amateurs go, I don’t yet consider myself one,” he said. “I’m in a very, very unique spot that I have the opportunity to play. It’s a unique kind of timing thing.”

Hagestad has already had a week to remember. He played practice rounds with Condoleezza Rice, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Thomas Pieters, who now shares the halfway lead.

“The most nervous I’ve ever been on a golf course was the two practice rounds,” he said. “My nerves have gotten a little bit better since.”

Apparently so. On his 36th hole of the tournament, with his historic weekend tee time already secure, he nearly holed his 180-yard 6-iron for a kick-in birdie.