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Fargo's Josh Persons reaches round of 16 in U.S. Mid-Am golf tourney

Former pro from Fargo North wins first two matches in prestigious tourney

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ERIN HILLS, Wis. — Josh Persons is making a sizable dent in a major amateur golf tournament. The Fargo resident won his first two matches Wednesday in the 41st U.S. Mid-Amateur at Erin Hills golf club in Erin Hills, Wis., located outside of Milwaukee.

Persons started the weeklong event that started last Saturday by reaching the field of 64 through two rounds of qualifying. He defeated Pat Wilson of Andover, N.J., 4 and 2 in the opening round and defeated Dalton Melnyk from Atlanta 2 and 1 in the round of 32.

Persons is trying to become the second North Dakotan to take a USGA Mid-Am title. Mike Podolak, from Oakes, won the 1984 championship. The other in-state national amateur title holder belongs to Amy Olson, who won the USGA 2009 U.S. Girls Junior tournament.

At 38 years old, two matches in one day has Persons in body-maintenance mode.

“Still a lot of golf left to be played,” he said. “It’s rest, ice, stretch … I’m not a spring chicken anymore. Just trying to get back ready for tomorrow.”


Persons threw a rally to remember at Melnyk after finding himself two down after 12 holes. But Persons birdied the next four holes, while Melnyk parred all four to take a 2-up lead with two to go. The two halved No. 17 with pars giving Persons the win.

“I kind of got off to a shaky start with the putter,” Persons said. “The greens were slower in the afternoon and I had trouble adjusting to the speed. Luckily I was able to hit a couple of shots close.”

Earlier against Wilson, Persons was one-up after 12 holes before going on a similar run beginning with a birdie on 13. Persons won the 14th and 16th holes to close out Wilson.

The road won’t get any easier; Persons will face defending champion Stewart Hagestad from Newport Beach, Calif., at 8 a.m. Thursday. Hagestad lost his first two holes before going on a surge of his own to win his match.

Persons doesn’t know much about Hagestad, other than he’s a good player.

“I definitely have my work cut out for me tomorrow,” he said.

Weather has been a factor this week in eastern Wisconsin, with the area receiving four inches of rain one day with fog delaying the start on Wednesday.

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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