John Pak didn’t make a birdie on Friday at Winged Foot, but he managed to keep the big numbers to a minimum, too. Often at the U.S. Open, there is an amateur in the mix. Pak will be that man at Winged Foot as he enters the third round nine shots off the lead and as the only amateur on the weekend tee sheet.
Low-amateur honors are assured at this point, and that’s significant considering Pak’s regional roots.
The Scotch Plains, New Jersey native, a senior at Florida State, was the only Metropolitan New York-area player to make the cut this week. Brandon Wu, of Scarsdale, New York, and Fresh Meadow Country Club professional Danny Balin, of White Plains, New York, each posted 10-over 150 and failed to make the weekend after hitting the opening tee shots on Thursday.
Pak, who had rounds of 69-76, was one of 13 amateurs to start the week at Winged Foot. Eight of those players are current collegians. There were some big names among that group, too.
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Davis Thompson, a University of Georgia player, made headlines with a fast start that included three bogeys on his opening nine on Thursday. He briefly had the lead and finished with a 1-under 69, but a follow-up 78 left him at 7 over, one shot outside the cutline.
“It was awesome,” Thompson said of his first U.S. Open start. “I just got off to a bad start today, and I never really got it back today. It was just awesome. Winged Foot is such a historic place, and to have my first U.S. Open here is really special.
The world’s top-ranked amateur, Takumi Kanaya, also finished at 7 over, one outside the cut, after rounds of 72-75.
Andy Ogletree, the 2019 U.S. Amateur champion, was 8 over while 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Preston Summerhays was 9 over.
Arizona State’s Chun An Yu, the No. 3-ranked amateur in the world, was inside the cutline for much of Friday but struggled to get in the clubhouse. After playing the front nine in 2 over, Yu went 7 over from Nos. 13-17 and closed with an 80 that effectively ended his week.