Foley Beats Hanstad, and McClean Beats Persons on Way to All-Irish Mid-Am Final
September 16, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle
ERIN, Wis. -- It wouldn't have been an all-Minnesota final at the U.S. Mid-Amateur, but it would have been close. Bryce Hanstad is from Alexandria, now lives in Edina, and he's won two state championships. Josh Persons is from Fargo, but he played golf for the University of Minnesota.
Instead, however, it has turned out to be an all-Irish final, after the No. 5 seed in the tournament, Hugh Foley, defeated No. 32 Hanstad 3&2, and Foley's friend Matthew McClean, the No. 7 seed, beat Persons (No. 35) by the same score on Friday morning. And in this rain-plagued Mid-Am that's two days behind, McClean was 2 up after 18 holes when play ended for the day. The second 18 of the scheduled 36-hole final at Erin Hills will begin at 7 a.m. (CDT) Saturday.
This is the first time two players from the same foreign country have played for the Mid-Am title.
"Erin," incidentally, is Gaelic for Ireland.
Foley, who traveled to the U.S. with McClean and is sharing a house and rental car with him, never trailed in his semifinal match against Hanstad. Both semifinals were delayed 20 minutes by fog, but once he got onto the course, Foley didn't take long to gain the upper hand. He won the 431-yard, par-4 third hole with a birdie, the 444-yard. par-4 fourth with a par, and the 461-yard, par-4 fifth with another birdie -- for three in a row and a 3-up lead.
Hanstad, the 2007 Minnesota State Amateur champion and winner of the 2022 MGA Mid-Players, kept trying to chip away at Foley's lead, but never got closer than 2 down over the last 13 holes. He birdied the par-5 seventh (586 yards), but Foley won the par-3 ninth with a par. Hanstad won the par-4 10th (443) with a par, but Foley countered by winning the par-4 11th (443) with a birdie. The pattern was repeated one more time, when Hanstad won the 367-yard, par-4 15th with a birdie, but Foley won the 157-yard, par-3 16th with a par to close him out.
McClean, who traveled to the U.S. with Foley, and has since then shared a house and rental car with him, won the long, 503-yard, par-4 first hole with a par, only to see Persons birdie the second (336 yards, par 4) and third holes.They halved the fourth hole with bogeys, but McClean won four of the next five holes. He birdied both the fifth and the 210-yard, par-3 sixth.
Persons, a former North Dakota state high school champion who was a tournament professional for eight years -- and won once on what is now the PGA Tour Canada -- before getting his amateur status reinstated in 2018, won the par-5 seventh (586) with a par. But McClean, a 29-year-old optometrist from Belfast, won the par-4 eighth (442) with a par and the 157-yard ninth with a birdie and was 2 up as they made the turn.
At that point, Persons was 2 over par. He played the first seven holes of the back nine in 1 under, but lost ground. McClean won both the 10th and 11th holes with birdies to go 4 up. The 13th and 14th were then tied with pars, and Persons won the 15th with a conceded birdie. But he was still 3 down, and McClean secured his victory by tying the par-3 16th with par.
"Insane," Foley marveled, when asked about the two Irish pals both being in the final. "We've been planning this for months. We heard Stewart Hagestad, No. 8 in the world (World Amateur Golf Rankings), and we were like, 'I don't know. Will we make the cut?' You're traveling all the way and hoping you don't miss the cut. Me and Matt have spent almost every second of the trip together."
As it turned out, Hagestad, the two-time and defending Mid-Am champion, qualified easily for match play and was the No. 14 seed. He made it through the first two rounds -- but was beaten 1 up by Persons in the Round of 16. Persons then dispatched another former Mid-Am champ, Scott Harvey (2014), in the quarterfinals, although it took him 21 holes to do it. Persons had also dismissed the No. 3 seed, Dalton Melnyk, 2&1 in the Round of 32.
In that same round, Persons knocked out the co-medalist and No. 1 seed, Jake Shuman, 2 up.
Foley got off to a quick start against McClean in the final, which had been scheduled to begin -- and end -- on Thursday, but Erin Hills was hit by 4 inches of rain on Sunday -- Blue Mound Golf & Country Club, the other course used for the stroke-play qualifying, got 5.3 inches -- and the tournament had to be put on hold for a while. The 25-year-old from Dublin (25 is the minimum age for mid-ams) parred the first hole. But McClean won the next three holes in a row, No. 2 with a birdied, No. 3 with a par and No. 4 with a conceded birdie.
The fifth and sixth holes were halved with pars, before Foley won the par-5 seventh with his first birdie of the match. He made his second at the 10th, and won that hole, too, but McClean ran off another three in a row at the 12th (birdie), 13th (birdie) and 14th (par). They both parred the 15th, birdied the 16th and parred the 17th. Foley cut his deficit to 2 down, however, when McClean made a mess of the 18th, hitting eight shots before conceding Foley's long birdie putt from the fringe.
That was followed by a 12-hour break.
"It's nice," Foley said of having an all-night interim between the first and second rounds of the final. "I'll kind of enjoy the break now, because I felt like nothing was really going for me. So it's nice to stop it, and maybe reset tomorrow."
At Erin Hills (7,309 yards, par 71)
& Blue Mound Golf & Country Club (6,766 yards, par 70)
Stroke-play qualifying (the top 64 finishers advanced to match play)
T1. Jake Shuman -7 68EH - 66BM -- 134
T1. Sam Jones -7 67BM - 67EH -- 134
3. Dalton Melnyk - 6 65EH - 70BM -- 135
T4. Hugh Foley -5 66BM - 70EH -- 136
T4. Andrew Bailey -5 70EH - 66BM -- 136
T6. Sam Foust -3 67BM - 71EH -- 138
T6. Matthew McClean -3 72BM - 66EH -- 138
T6. Matthew Naumec -3 67BM - 71EH -- 138
T9. James Leow -2 65BM - 74EH -- 139
T9. Ryan Gutowski -2 69EH - 70BM -- 139
T9. Chad Wilfong -2 70EH - 69BM -- 139
T9. Ian Davis -2 71EH - 68BM -- 139
T9. Mark Costanza -2 69EH - 70BM -- 139
T9. Stewart Hagestad -2 64BM - 75EH -- 139
T9. Brad Nurski -2 72EH - 67BM -- 139
T28. Josh Persons +1 73BM - 69EH -- 142
T28. Bryce Hanstad +1 70BM - 72EH -- 142
Did not make the cut -- 144 (17-for-12 playoff)
T154. Max Tylke +8 75EH - 74BM -- 149
T154. Joe Gullion +8 74BM - 75EH -- 149
T223. Robert Newbold +14 78BM - 77EH -- 155
WD Sammy Schmitz 75BM
(The match-play portion of the tournament is being played at Erin Hills.)
Round of 64
(1) Jake Shuman def. (64) Austin Spicer 1 up
(32) Bryce Hanstad def. (33) Connor Lyon 3&2
(8) Sam Foust 1 up on (57) Mitchell Ford through 4 holes
(40) Andrew Paysse def. (25) Hayes Brown 1 up
(4) Andrew Bailey def. (61) John Quigley 1 up
(5) Hugh Foley def. (60) Alex Turner 3&1
(2) Sam Jones def. (63) Christian Raynor 5&4
(7) Matthew McClean def. (58) Christopher Anderson 6&4
(3) Dalton Melnyk 2&1 def. def. Matt Parziale 2&1
(35) Josh Persons def. (30) Pat Wilson 4&2
(14) Stewart Hagestad def. (51) Jason Schultz 2&1
(59) Chris Thayer def. (6) Matthew Naumec 2&1
Round of 32
(32) Hanstad def. (1) Shuman 1 up
(48) Ryan Greer def. (16) Thad Hudgens 5&4
(40) Andrew Paysse def. (8) Foust 1 up
(9) Ian Davis def. (24) Yaroslav Merkulov 2&1
(4) Bailey def. (29) Ryan Plitz 4&3
(5) Foley def. (28) Sam Jackson 3&2
(34) Scott Turner def. (2) Jones 3&2
(7) McClean def. (39) Casey Carnes 3&2
(10) Brad Nurski def. (42) Christian Sease 6&5
(35) Persons def. (3) Melnyk 2&1
(14) Hagestad def. (19) Stephen Hale 2&1
Round of 16
(32) Hanstad def. (48) Greer 5&4
(40) Paysse def. (9) Davis 1 up
(13) Chad Wilfong def. (4) Andrew Bailey 2&1
(5) Foley def. (12) Ryan Gutowski 5&3
(34) Turner def. (15) James Leow 4&3
(7) McClean def. (10) Nurski 20 holes
(35) Persons def. (14) Hagestad 1 up
(38) Scott Harvey def. (11) Mark Costanza 3&2
(32) Hanstad def. (40) Paysse 19 holes
(5) Foley def. (13) Wilfong 2 up
(7) McClean def. (34) Turner 2&1
(35) Persons def. (38) Harvey 21 holes
(5) Foley def. (32) Hanstad 3&2
(7) McClean def. (35) Persons 3&2
(7) McClean leads (5) Foley after 18 holes of scheduled 36-hole final
(to be continued Saturday morning)