Fargo's Josh Persons defeats 2 former champs to advance to U.S. Mid-Am semifinals
Fargo North graduate goes to the third extra hole to win his quarterfinal match
ERIN HILLS, Wis. — Fargo’s Josh Persons edged the defending champion in the U.S. Mid-Amateur golf championships in Erin Hills, Pa., on Thursday morning. For his reward, he got to face a former champion in the quarterfinals.
Big obstacles, no problem.
“Good guys, good players,” Persons said. “I just hung around, hung around, hung around and tried not to beat myself.”
Persons won the 18th hole to beat Stewart Hagestad 1-up in the round of 16. That brought on Scott Harvey, the 2015 champion and decorated amateur player from Greensboro, N.D., and 18 holes wasn’t enough.
Persons won in 21 holes and will advance to Friday’s semifinals at 7:15 a.m. against Matthew McClean from Ireland. He’s bidding to become the first North Dakotan to win the event since Mike Podolak did it in 1984.
Persons got off to a fast start, taking a 3-up lead on Harvey through seven holes. Back-to-back bogeys on the ninth and 10th holes cut that advantage to one. Harvey overtook Persons on the back nine, but Persons won the 17th hole to make it all square heading into 18.
That was an adventure for both players, with both registering bogies to force extra holes. Persons had putts to win 18 and the first extra hole but both narrowly missed. Both halved Nos. 1 and 2 with Persons having the best chance to win both.
A birdie on the third hole, thanks to sticking his approach within a foot, did the trick. How did he handle the nerves?
“I don’t know if you ever do,” Persons said. “But I was hitting it well and I just said keep doing what you’re doing and it will happen.”
It’s been a haul of a golf tourney, but Persons said a couple of fellow Fargo North graduates who showed up Thursday, Tommy Leikas and Nick Lakoduk, helped him on a long day.
“We’re having a blast, it’s been a long week, but hopefully we can make it a bit longer,” Persons said.
The match against Hagestad was a back-and-forth affair with either Persons or Hagestad winning 11 holes. Persons was 2-up through 13, but Hagestad won the 14th and 15th to tie it.
After halving 16 and 17, Persons’ par on the par-5 18th was the winner with Hagestad bogeying the hole after missing a six-foot putt.
Persons isn’t the only area player to be making a run. Bryce Hanstad, an Alexandria, Minn., native and a current resident of Edina, Minn., moved into the semifinals beating Andrew Paysse in 19 holes.