Local favorite ousted at mid-am
McDermott ousted in quarterfinals at mid-am
“Over the weekend, I said, ‘you know there’s a tournament that if you do well enough, it might be on TV. (Tuesday) night, I said I might be on TV if I play well one more time. — Michael McDermott
EAST NANTMEAL >> The feel-good story of the 36th United States Middle-Amateur Championship ended on Wednesday morning when local favorite Michael McDermott dropped a quarterfinal decision at Stonewall’s Old Course.
Thanks to the top-eight finish – his best ever in a USGA event – McDermott will be exempt for the 2017 Mid-Am. but according to the 41-year-old, one of the big disappointments at the McDermott household in Bryn Mawr will come from his sons, ages three, six and eight, who missed out on seeing their dad play golf on television in the semifinals.
“Yeah, they’re into it,” McDermott said. “Over the weekend, I said, ‘you know there’s a tournament that if you do well enough, it might be on TV,’” McDermott said. “(Tuesday) night, I said I might be on TV if I play well one more time.
“But when I come home (Wednesday) night and tell them I lost, they are going to say, ‘come on, let’s play basketball.’ They will forget about it quick and hopefully it will help me do the same.”
Despite getting off to a sizzling start, McDermott wound up falling 2-down to Californian Stewart Hagestad, with a berth in the final four at stake. The 25-year-old Hagestad later earned his way into the final with a convincing 4-and-2 win over Scott Strickland in the semifinals.
Hagestad’s opponent will be Scott Harvey, from Greensboro, N.C., who needed 19 holes to finally dispatch Dan Sullivan. And for the first time ever, the 36-hole final will be not be played on the same course. Stonewall’s North Course will host the opening 18, and the Old Course the final 18.
“It is exciting,” said Harvey, who won the 2014 U.S. MidAm. “(The North) is a good golf course and totally different from (the Old Course). It’s pretty open off the tee, pretty undulated greens, and it plays shorter.”
McDermott put Hagestad on his heels in the morning session, racing out to a 3-up lead through three holes thanks to birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 and a bogey from Hagestadt on the 3rd.
“Unfortunately, from that point forward, I couldn’t keep the ball in play, and it really cost me,” McDermott explained.
A Newport Beach, Calif., resident, Hagestadt eventually grabbed the lead for good with a par on the 13th. It was his fourth win in the preceding eight holes, and McDermott helped the situation my missing makeable putts at 9, 12, and 13.
“When you are not hitting it well, you have to make all of those,” he said.
McDermott’s best chance to square the match came at the par-3 15th, but his birdie effort wouldn’t drop.
“My putt hung on the highlip,” McDermott said. “It looked like it could turn in, but it just didn’t. And then (Hagestad) made his 6-footer, so credit to him. Those are the turning points to matches. If he misses that, who know where we go?”
Looking for another magical finish like his come-frombehind round of 16 victory the day before, McDermott needed to win the 447-yard 18th hole to extend the match. But his approach shot caught the fescue around a greenside bunker, his chip was nothing special and his par putt slide by. With Hagestad on the green, putting for birdie, McDermott conceded the hole and the win.
“I didn’t spend a lot of time in the fairway and (Hagestad) chipped away at the (early) lead quickly,” McDermott said. “It just wasn’t a good ball-striking day and it’s tough to win against a great player when you hit it like I did (Wednesday).
“I only hit about three fairways all day and that’s just not going to get it done at this point of a national championship.”
Nevertheless, it was a memorable week for McDermott, who started things off with a couple practice rounds with his youngster brother, Brian, who also qualified to make the 264-player field, but failed to make it out of the stroke play portion.
“I will take a lot of positives from this, but it’s hard to compare a good showing to a win,” said McDermott, when asked where this week in Chester County ranked in his lengthy golfing career. “But this certainly ranks up there with the great experiences. And in my hometown, to do it like this is special.
“It was a fun week for our family. I’m sorry it’s over.”
Stewart Hagestad hits out of the bunker during his semifinal match at the U.S. Mid-Am Championship on Wednesday.
Scott Harvey, left, talks with Dan Sullivan in their semifinal match Wednesday.
Michael McDermott tees off on the 16th hole at Stonewall’s Old Course in the quarterfinals of the United States MidlleAmateur Championship on Wednesday.