SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Johnny Pak more than held his own in his U.S. Open Golf Championship debut on Thursday at Winged Foot, one of the world's most challenging courses. The Scotch Plains native tied for 14th at -1 and is tied for the lead among amateurs through Round 1.
How well did he do? At one under par, Pak is tied with seven other golfers, including two of the world's top ten players, No. 2 Jon Rahm and No. 9 Bryson DeChambeau, as well as Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, 82 Shaun Norris, Rory Sabbatini, and Davis Thompson. Among the big names trailing the 21-year-old amateur are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
"I got off to a good start. I was pretty nervous on the first tee, but I was hitting the ball really good and stayed really patient out there," said Pak in a video interview after his first day at the U.S. Open as a participant. "Overall, it was a really solid round for me."
"This experience has been incredible. It's everything I thought," Pak said. "I'm learning a lot, and I'm really excited to be here."
Pak said it feels great to be playing near the place where he grew up.
"I've played here (at Winged Foot) a few times. I'm from this area -- only an hour south," Pak explained. "It feels nice to play in the northeast. It's some of the best golf. I just want to have fun and learn."
Justin Thomas sits atop the leaderboard with a five under par 65 through Round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship. Three golfers -- Patrick Reed, who hit a hole-in-one, Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff -- are tied for second at -4. Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen are tied for fifth at -3.