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John Pak on verge of PGA Tour card after notching first Korn Ferry win

It took longer than many probably expected, but John Pak is on the verge of clinching his PGA Tour card.

Pak, the 25-year-old Florida State product, notched his first Korn Ferry Tour win Sunday at the Compliance Solutions Championship at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Oklahoma. Pak’s three-shot victory moved him from No. 51 to ninth in points; the top 30 at season’s end earn Tour cards, and with just 11 events left, Pak has quite the cushion, though only No. 1 Tim Widing and No. 2 Harry Higgs are mathematically Tour bound.

Sitting at 21 under through 54 holes this week thanks to rounds of 64-66-65, Pak saw his seven-shot lead dwindle to just two as Jackson Suber fired a closing 63 to get in the clubhouse at 20 under. Pak then finished par-birdie-par to post 23 under and win by three.

“I didn’t feel very good this morning,” Pak said. “I kind of just had this weird feeling in my stomach; I wanted to throw up, but that feeling went away, so that’s nice.”

Pak won a program-record eight times in four years at Florida State. He was a four-time All-American, twice a first-teamer, and as a senior he won the Haskins and Hogan awards while finishing atop the PGA Tour University standings.

However, Pak recorded just a single top-30 finish in 16 KFT starts after turning pro in June 2021. He went down to PGA Tour Canada and won there, but he then fell short of full KFT status at Q-School last winter.

Starting this year with conditional KFT membership, Pak eventually Monday-qualified into the Club Car Championship in Savannah, Georgia, and tied for third to improve his status.

It was shortly before that week when Pak was practicing and a man by the name of Gio Valiante, a sports psychologist, asked if his son could watch Pak hit balls. Soon Pak and Valiante were working together.

“He’s really helped me kind of redefine my whole psychological point of view on the game of golf, and it’s helped a lot,” Pak said. “I think back then when I first started, it was really tough for me because I had some high expectations. I kind of put too much pressure on myself and I didn’t have the success I wanted. Yeah, it was really tough, but I’ve really kind of flipped the switch there and it’s starting – the results are showing now.”