Josh Persons in contention at Neediest Kids Championship
By Eric Detweiler,
A self-described golf “gypsy,” Josh Persons planned to head home to Fargo, N.D., if he couldn’t play his way into the Web.com’s Neediest Kids Championship via open qualifying Monday.
In making the field, Persons ensured he wouldn’t have to tailor his practice schedule around the snow storm that blew through North Dakota this week. Instead, the 28-year-old who splits time between the Gateway, eGolf and Dakotas tours is in line to land one of the biggest paychecks of his career.
Persons fired a 2-under-par 68 on Friday to stay near the top of the leader board at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. With two bogey-free rounds, Persons is at 7 under for the tournament, tied with Canadian Brad Fritsch and one behind Sweden’s David Lingmerth entering the weekend.
“I get around quite a bit,” said Persons, who missed the cut in his only other Web.com appearance back in 2010. “It’s nice to get into one of these and play well.”
Persons stayed on track on a day when the overall scoring average jumped. On Thursday, 45 players in the 144-man field broke par, many taking advantage of the favorable scoring conditions early in the day, but the course proved a tougher test during the second round. First-round leader Jason Gore tumbled back with a 77 and just 25 players finished with under-par rounds. The projected cut is at 2-over 142, though the day closed with one group still on the course.
Tom Hoge, another Fargo native, is tied for fourth at 6 under after recording a 65, the low round of the day. Hoge, who shares a North Dakota-based swing coach with Persons, found a way to squeeze out seven birdies, and he finished out the day’s low round with a delicate downhill 20-footer for par on the 18th hole.
“I saw [Person’s] name up there, and it was kind of a spark to get my butt going there and make a few birdies,” Hoge said. “It’s going to be fun to try and catch him here.”
Persons has continued to play well after earning $5,200 for finishing third in last week’s eGolf event in North Carolina.
He said he’d failed to qualify for the local Web.com event several times in the past, but he finally earned one of the 14 qualifying spots with a 7-under 64 at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton on Monday.
Playing in the last group of the day Thursday, Persons carded five birdies in his first 17 holes but couldn’t finish the round because of darkness.
The University of Minnesota graduate came back and completed his first round with a par Friday morning and then kept the good feelings going with another solid round. Despite spending most of the day in “survival mode” as he fought the challenging conditions, he birdied the fourth and fifth holes and parred the rest, ensuring he’ll be a factor to start the weekend in a tournament where the winner will earn $108,000.
“You never know what to expect,” Persons said. “A good friend of mine from Fargo always says, ‘You go out there to compete and give it your best.’ We’ll see what happens at the end of the week.”