Lawless keeps the lead on ‘moving day’
By Charles Whisnand
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor
Thursday has become to be known as moving day during the first stage of qualifying for the PGA Tour at Dayton Valley Golf and Country Club at Legado.
That’s because the third round of the PGA qualifier becomes one in which participants play themselves into ” and out of ” contention to move on to the second stage of qualifying.
One of those players was Josh Persons of Fargo, N.D. After struggling through the first two rounds and standing at 2-over-par 146, Persons shot a 7-under 65 during Thursday’s third round and is now at 5-under.
Persons now finds himself among the many players, who are “on the bubble” as far as making it to the second stage of qualifying during today’s final round. The top 23 players plus ties will advance to the second stage and as is the case every year, there will be plenty of scoreboard watching by the players who are “on the bubble.”
Second-round leader Marc Lawless of Aptos, Calif. fired the low round of the tournament with an 8-under 64 for an 18-under 198. First-round leader Clayton Rask of Elk River, Minn., shot a 65 to move two shots back at 200. Wil Collins, of Rapid City, S.D., was paired with Lawless and Rask and shot a 4-under 68 and third place at 203.
James Drew of North Las Vegas and Gary Woodland, Berryton, Kan., are tied for fourth at 205. Drew fired a 66 and Woodland shot his third straight under par round with a 68.
Persons shot a 32 on the front nine and a 33 on the back nine. During one stretch on holes 17, 18, 1, 2 and 3, he had four birdies and one eagle, concluding with the eagle on No. 3.
Persons said he didn’t know if he’d ever had a stretch like that.
“That was pretty good for me,” he said.
Persons, though, said there wasn’t really any difference in the way he was hitting the ball on Thursday as opposed to the first two rounds. The biggest difference, he said, was his putting.
“I made a few long putts in there that helped and kept it going,” said Persons about that five-hole stretch. “I just putted better. I made some putts today.”
“I had a couple bad shots each day that cost me,” said Persons about his first two rounds. “Today when I did miss (it) was in good spots.”
Persons, though, knew that the conditions were perfect on Thursday. Unlike the first two rounds when there was just enough wind to make things interesting, there was virtually no wind on Thursday.
“The scores will be lower but I hope I scored just low enough to move up,” he said. “I hope I’m a couple shots lower than most.”
Persons basically got his wish as he’s one shot ahead of the cut-off point to move on. As it stood after the third round, 4-under was the magic number as 25 players were at 4-under or lower. Forty-eight of the 77 players shot under par on Thursday.
“It’s going to be close,” said Persons, commenting on if he’ll move on. “It’s by no means over yet. I’ve still got to play well tomorrow.”
Persons played at Dayton for the first time last year and did make it through to the second stage. Persons, who played at the University of Minnesota and has played on the Gateway and Dakotas Tours, has the obvious goal of making it through to the PGA Qualifying School.
He wasn’t able to do that last year. Those who make it to Q School play for the right to be on the PGA Tour.
“I just had success last year,” said Persons on why he came back to Dayton. “I like the course.”
Lawless was obviously pleased with his round.
“I made some putts and that’s what today comes down to,” said Lawless, a Canadian Tour player for the last two years. “I missed some in the 8-foot range but I made some 20-footers and it all evens out. I have no complaints whatsoever.”
Rask had a bogey-free round.
“I hit it close on the front nine and made those putts,” he said. “I had a bunch of lip- outs on the back. But it was a fun day, I got to play with guys on the Canadian Tour and we all played well. You felt like you were falling behind whenever you made a par.”