Photo courtesy: Ross Obley, Florida State University
One of the highest honors an amateur golfer can achieve is playing on the Walker Cup team. John Pak of Scotch Plains is one of the select few who can claim that accomplishment.
The rising junior at Florida State University, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship this spring and recently reached the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Championship, has been named to the ten-player 2019 United States Walker Cup team.
Held biennially, the Walker Cup pits top amateurs from the United States against a team from Great Britain and Ireland. This year, the competition will be held September 7 and 8 at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. The event is decided over two forms of match play; foursome (alternate shot) matches are played each morning, followed by singles matches both afternoons. The USA, which won the cup in 2017, needs 13 points to retain the cup while Great Britain and Ireland need 13.5 points to win.
“Being named to the Walker Cup team is such a big accomplishment,” said Pak, 20. “If I perform well it would be so big for my career. I’m excited about going to England. I’m not the biggest fan of links golf but I’ll figure it out.”
Pak was named first-team All-America this past season, winning four of the 11 events in which he played with finishes inside the top 15 in every tournament. As a junior golfer, he was a two-time AJGA Rolex All-American who grew up learning the game at Royce Brook Golf Club in Hillsborough.
“At college, I got mentally tougher. I’ve won five tournaments my first two years here, but looking back - getting that first tournament win as a freshman really boosted my confidence,” said Pak, who won FSU’s Gold Eagle tournament in 2018.
“My biggest Improvement has been putting. I always think putting is all mental in my opinion. Putting wasn’t my strong suit and I’ve gotten progressively better as I’ve gotten to college,” he said.
Pak joins a list of golfers with New Jersey connections who have represented the United States on the Walker Cup team over the years, including:
Robert Henry (Skee) Riegel, long-time resident and pro emeritus at Cape May National, 2-0 in 1947 and 2-0 in 1949
Mike Killian, head professional at Hollywood Golf Club (1991-2001) and Director of Golf at Galloway National Golf Club (2001-2014), 1-2 in 1973
Joey Rassett, former professional at the Ridge at Back Brook, 3-0 in 1981
Brad Faxon, born in Oceanport, 3-1 in 1983
Mike Sposa, born in Teaneck, 2-1 in 1991
Todd Demsey, born in Ridgewood, 3-0 in 1993
Duke Delcher, Two-time club champion at Atlantic City Country Club & Atlantic City resident, 2-1 in 1997
Chris Nallen, resident of Hackettstown, 1-1 in 2003
Morgan Hoffmann, resident of Saddle Brook, 2-0-1 in 2009