Persons now on the Big Ten golfing radar

Senior Josh Persons has led Minnesota in scoring over the team’s past three events.

C.J. Spang

Despite being the 2001 North Dakota state high school golf champion, Minnesota’s men’s senior golfer Josh Persons wasn’t even on the Gophers’ recruiting radar.

In fact, he was only a recruiting priority for two schools: Texas Tech and Kansas State – with the Wildcats getting Persons’ services.

But after spending two seasons at Kansas State, Persons decided he needed to go elsewhere to further his golf career.

“I thought (Kansas) State would be my best offer, my best fit and that’s what I liked at the time,” Persons said. “But I found out there’s better places to be for golf.

“This is what I thought was best for me and it worked out well for them.”

It has definitely worked out well for Minnesota with Persons on the team.

In his first season for the Gophers, Persons had the second-best scoring average on the team at 74.3 strokes per round – earning him second-team All-Big Ten honors.

This season, especially as of late, he has put up numbers that are worthy of Big Ten recognition.

In the past three tournaments – a span of nine rounds – Persons has shot a combined 2-over par, six strokes better than Minnesota’s second-best aggregate scorer over those same tournaments.

“It’s been huge for us,” junior Niall Turner said of Persons’ play. “He’s bringing a lot of low numbers that the rest of us aren’t producing at the moment.”

His three rounds under par include a pair of 68s – which tie his career best.

Both Persons and assistant coach Andrew Tank credit the success to Persons’ putting and driving ability.

But that success hasn’t surprised anyone. Rather, it was just expected to be a matter of time.

“Josh has always had that ability to shoot really low rounds,” Tank said. “So that doesn’t surprise us now that the middle of the season is coming that he’s shooting 68s.”

Even with the success, Persons knows he’s not yet a complete golfer and has work to do if he wants to play at the next level.

After firing a 68 in the first round of the Augusta State Invitational, Persons came back with a 73 that afternoon and a 74 in the final round – good enough to finish in a tie for seventh individually.

“I’ve definitely been playing well but I’ve definitely made mistakes,” Persons said. “There’s definitely room for improvement.”

And while the success hasn’t gone to Persons’ head, it’s definitely had an effect on the team’s expectations of him for the rest of the season.

“His play is going to be extremely crucial to the success of team,” Tank said. “We’re going to be looking for Josh to be competing and getting a win here against these Big Ten teams.”