College Golf Report: Freshman John Pak flourishing at Florida State

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College Golf Report: Freshman John Pak flourishing at Florida State

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College Golf Report: Freshman John Pak flourishing at Florida State

Every Thursday in the spring, Golfweek will look back on the last week of college golf, highlighting team victories, individual titles and more.

Welcome to the College Golf Report, and here is what’s new for March 15-21:

• • •

With winds blowing around 20 mph Tuesday at The Floridian Golf Club in Palm City, Fla., Florida State freshman John Pak wasn’t shaken.

He never used to be great in the wind. Pak recalls his performances at the AJGA’s annual Ping Invitational, typically one of the windier tournaments on the junior-golf schedule, and how he shot at least one round in the 80s in three straight years at the Stillwater, Okla., event.

But in the last six months, Pak has learned to flight his ball better in blustery conditions. And at the Valspar, he got to show off his improved arsenal in the wind.

Pak, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native, stood strong as another nor’easter pushed its way across the eastern U.S., making seven birdies and firing the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 that was nearly nine shots better than the field average.

“That 66 is one of the best rounds that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach,” said Florida State head coach Trey Jones, who has coached PGA Tour players such as Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger and Jonas Blixt.

Pak’s impressive finish earned him a runner-up showing to Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland. Pak has now finished in the top 8 in eight of his nine starts to begin his college career. He won the Seminole Intercollegiate earlier this spring.

He is also considered the closest challenger to Oklahoma State’s Matt Wolff for this year’s Phil Mickelson Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top freshman.

“Beginning of the year my coach sat down with me and we talked about goals,” Pak said. “I set a lot of goals for myself and that was my top priority.”

While Pak said he hasn’t noticed a big difference from junior golf to the college level – “I’m playing against the same people I played against two years ago,” he said – Jones credits Pak’s quick adjustment to the college game to his eagerness to learn.

“He’s great at asking questions,” Jones said. “Anytime someone’s asking questions you know their intent is there. Because of that, wanting to do better and asking questions, he’s accelerated faster than some of the other players.”

Pak, ranked 22nd by Golfweek, has also showcased a skill for playing his game and avoiding mistakes. He’s one of the shortest hitters off the tee among the top 100-ranked players in Division I, but he’s also arguably the straightest.

Jones said Pak was hitting 88 percent of his fairways after his first three tournaments this fall.

“We stress here to try and make every hole a par 3,” Jones sad. “Well, he plays every hole as a par 3 from the middle of the fairway. … And he’s better with his 6-iron than a lot of people are with an 8-iron.”

An even more impressive stat: Pak has played 468 holes this season and just once has he carded a score worse than bogey.

“And that came from a three-putt,” Jones said.

Pak has been a bright spot for the 17th-ranked Seminoles and has paired nicely with senior Harry Ellis. He’s a likeable kid who makes for a great teammate, Jones said, and since he’s arrived on campus Pak’s mental game has only gotten better. His confidence right now is at an all-time high.

“I felt like I’ve always had talent, but I feel like right now my mind is at a very good spot,” Pak said. “I feel like I can win any tournament if a couple more putts fall.”

Or if the wind picks up.

• • •

Setting the curve

Notable team winners and individual champions from the past week

MEN

Alabama: The Tide shot 7 under in the final round to pass Georgia and win the Linger Longer Invitational by two shots on Tuesday.

Auburn: The Tigers shot 13 under in the final round to climb three spots, finish at 12 under and win the John Hayt Collegiate by a shot over North Carolina on Tuesday.

Oklahoma State: The top-ranked Cowboys shot 5 over in the final round Tuesday at the Valspar Collegiate, but they still shot 12 under and won by five shots over Florida State. Oklahoma State has now won seven of eight events this season.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores won their third title of the season, one off the school record, by taking the Schenkel Invitational on Sunday by eight shots over Georgia Southern. Vanderbilt shot 29 under as a team.

Brian Carlson, Purdue: Carlson won the Hayt for his second career college title, shooting 9 under and besting North Florida’s Andrew Alligood by a shot.

Brad Dalke, Oklahoma: The junior won for the first time this season, shooting 8 under and winning the Lone Star Invitational by a shot.

Lee Hodges, Alabama: His victory at the Linger Longer was his second of the spring. Hodges shot 14 under, two shots better than Georgia’s Spencer Ralston.

Viktor Hovland, Oklahoma State: The sophomore shot 13 under and won the Valspar medal by four shots. The win was the first in college for Hovland, who now has five straight top-5 finishes.

Theo Humphrey, Vanderbilt: The senior won for the first time in his college career by shooting 13-under 203 and capturing the Schenkel Invitational by two shots.

WOMEN

Arizona: The Wildcats won the Hawkeye El Tigre Invitational by 17 shots on Saturday.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks defeated a loaded field at the Evans Derby Experience, shooting 28 under to beat runner-up Duke by nine shots on Tuesday. The win was Arkansas’ fifth of the season.

Oklahoma: The Sooners edged Arizona State by two shots to win the Clover Cup on Sunday.

Maria Fassi, Arkansas: Fassi won the Evans Derby five shots to notch her fifth individual title of the season and third straight. Fassi, who shot 14 under, joins Stacy Lewis as the only Arkansas players to win five or more times in a season. (Lewis won six times as a senior.)

Jillian Hollis, Georgia: Hollis shot 3 under in the final round to shoot 8 under and win the 3M Augusta Invitational by three shots on Sunday.

Haley Moore, Arizona: Moore was the only player under par at the El Tigre as she shot 6 under and won by six shots.

Julienne Soo, Oklahoma: With a final-round 68, Soo shot 5 under and beat Jaclyn Lee of Ohio State by a shot.

Kelly Whaley, North Carolina: Whaley shot 12 under to take the Briar’s Creek Invitational by five shots on Tuesday.

• • •

Weekly honors

Standouts from the week that was in college golf

TEAMS OF THE WEEK

  • Men: Oklahoma State
  • Women: Arkansas

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

  • Men: Viktor Hovland, Oklahoma State
  • Women: Maria Fassi, Arkansas

• • •

Ringler says

What Golfweek college golf expert Lance Ringler is talking about

• • •

Top of the class

Top-ranked teams and individuals in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings

NO. 1 TEAMS

  • Men: Oklahoma State
  • Women: UCLA

Full rankings: Team | Individual

NO. 1 INDIVIDUALS

  • Men: Justin Suh, USC
  • Women: Lilia Vu, UCLA

Full rankings: Team | Individual

• • •

Watch lists

Latest watch lists for the Haskins and ANNIKA awards

Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel

  1. Justin Suh, USC
  2. Collin Morikawa, Cal
  3. Viktor Hovland, Oklahoma State
  4. Fredrik Nilehn, Texas Tech
  5. Davis Riley, Alabama

Full list

ANNIKA Award presented by 3M

  1. Lilia Vu, UCLA
  2. Maria Fassi, Arkansas
  3. Andrea Lee, Stanford
  4. Lauren Stephenson, Alabama
  5. Sierra Brooks, Florida

Full list

• • •

Planning ahead

Upcoming tournaments of note in college golf

MEN

  • March 23-24: Bighorn Invitational, Palm Desert, Calif.
  • March 23-25: FAU Spring Championship, Boca Raton, Fla.
  • March 23-25: Furman Intercollegiate, Greenville, S.C.
  • March 26-27: Oregon Duck Invitational, Eugene, Ore.
  • March 26-27: Lake Charles Invitational, Lake Charles, La.

WOMEN

  • March 23-25: Clemson Invitational, Sunset, S.C.
  • March 23-25: Ping/ASU Invitational, Tempe, Ariz.
  • March 26-28: Anuenue Spring Break Classic, Maui, Hawaii
  • March 26-28: SDSU March Mayhem, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

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