Scotch Plains native honored as low amateur at 120th U.S. Open
A Scotch Plains native was honored on Sunday as the low amateur at the 120th U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
John Pak, 21, says that his prestigious accomplishment in the tournament has left him honored and humbled.
“It was by far the hardest golf course I’ve ever played in my life. The rough was thick, the greens were so fast,” the Florida State senior says.
Pak tied for 51st in the tournament. He was the only amateur to make the cut thanks to an opening round 69. He joins a list of low amateurs at the U.S. Open that includes Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson. Pak says that the tournament taught him a lot about his own game.
“A lot of these guys are a lot stronger. They are better putters than I am and that’s something I need to work on. I feel like going out there and seeing it for myself shows me that’s what I need to do to get to where they are,” Pak says.
Pak says that another highlight was meeting Tiger Woods, who did not make the cut.
“I jokingly said that one of my goals for the week is to beat Tiger Woods, and to see my name above Tiger Woods’ name on a leader board meant a whole lot to me,” says Pak.
Pak says that something else that was meaningful was how gracious U.S. Open champion Bryson Dechambeau was at the trophy presentation.
“He just won his first major and he was like, ‘John, I think you are a very young, smart player.' To come up to me like that, that just proves that you’re a smart kid and you have a lot of potential in front of you. So, him saying that was really, really cool,” says Pak.
Pak will now return to classes at Florida State. He says that going forward he hopes to use his platform to inspire kids from New Jersey to follow their dreams.
“Being up from New Jersey, there’s not a lot of young golfers that want to pursue this like I did. I wish I could be a little bit more of an inspiration to these kids out there so they can see that if I can do it, they can do it,” he says.
Pak says that he is next hoping to help Florida State win a national championship this spring, before turning to professional golf.