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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 28 2009

North Dakota Open up for grabs

All it takes is a few good days. Last weekend, Tim Ailes of Columbus, Ohio, shot a final round 64 to win the Dakotas Tour event in Minot, N.D.

He pocketed $15,000. More important, he invested into his confidence.

“It kind of lets you know you’re doing the right stuff,” Ailes said. “I finally broke through.”

Another opportunity for the Dakotas Tour players to break through starts today with the Bobcat North Dakota State Open at the Fargo Country Club. The annual golf tournament runs through Sunday and the field is as good as can be expected.

It includes three former champions – Paul Wackerly in 2002, Chad Fribley in 2005 and Kane Hanson in 2007 – plus 14 of the top 15 money winners on the Dakotas Tour. It includes local products like Hanson and Brandon Askew from Fargo South and Josh Persons from Fargo North.

“We’re great friends and we grew up competing against each other,” Persons said.

Persons had the lead in Minot after two rounds including a personal-low 64.

“I’ve been a little streaky, hopefully I’ll get a good one going,” he said. “I drove it well the first two rounds and then I had it going crooked, started playing from behind trying to save pars.

Persons calls Hanson a tournament favorite because of his consistency. Hanson, in turn, said it will take at least 10 under to win.

“I know this course as well as anyone,” he said.

Hanson will play in the Dakotas Tour championship next weekend at Dakota Winds in Hankinson, then head back to Phoenix for the Gateway Tour. He’s still currently eighth on the Gateway’s overall money list at $57,180.75.

There’s no secret to getting a share of the prize winnings at the Fargo Country Club.

“Keep it out of the trees,” Ailes said.

The leaders will tee off about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. After a spring and summer of adjusting to the Red River flood, the course is in tournament shape.

A few holes adjacent to the river will be played using “pick and clean” rules. Otherwise, the only evidence of the biggest flood in Fargo history is construction crews putting together an emergency-use hole north of No. 10 fairway.

“The course looks in phenomenal shape,” Hanson said.

Money leaders

The top nine money leaders in the Dakotas Tour are entered in the Bobcat North Dakota State Open:

1. Ian Hessels, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., $62,328.66.

2. Tim Ailes, Columbus, Ohio, $33,167.50

3. A.J. Elgert, Lincoln, Neb. $28,750.00

4. Paul Wackerly III North Canton, Ohio, $18,307.00

5. Brad Pemberton, Port Hope, Ontario, $17,757.83

6. Brett Swedberg, Alexandria, Minn., $16,423.33

7. Jordan Weber Cedar Falls, Iowa, $14,700.00

8. Chad Fribley Tualaton, Ore., $14,505.90

9. Yong Joo, Maurertown, Va., $13,775.91.

Forum staff reports

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia