By VINCE PELUSO — firstname.lastname@example.org
Geneva golfer Nick Pae wasted little time getting his senior season going in the right direction.
Pae kicked off 2012 by receiving medalist honors at the Karl Pearson Invitational, firing a tidy 73 at the season opener.
He followed that up with a 35 in the opening Premier Athletic Conference match of the season for the Eagles, a match they lost as a team to Riverside, but a match that also strengthened the senior’s confidence.
“(Being medalist at the Karl Pearson Invitational) gave me a lot of confidence I could play real well, it was a good start to the season,” he said. “But that first match against Riverside, I shot a 35 and that felt like a good jump start to my season. We lost the match, but me being a leader for the team I felt like we could build of me and get off to a better start next match help the guys.”
Pae parlayed that fast start into season-long success and for that he is the 2012 Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the year.
“It was a pretty good year, I was just really focused this year and put in a lot of time practicing,” he said. “I played a lot of rounds and just played all-around solid golf. I didn’t doing anything particular better than other season, I just played well all-around.”
Pae said this season had been a culmination of the work he put in leading up to this season, leaving him with high expectations heading into 2012.
“I was expecting to have a really good season honestly,” he said. “I had worked really hard with (Geneva coach) Mr. (Brad) Ellis. I had high expectations of myself.”
Ellis said the time Pae put in leading up to the year is the reason for his success.
“Nick put a lot of time in the summer and worked on his game,” he said. “After his junior year, he had a good year, but he decided if he worked at this he can be pretty darn good. He had an outstanding year, he’s great kid and he works hard at it.
“He had the right attitude, always positive. When things weren’t going well I’d talk to him and he’s say, ‘I’m all right, I’ll turn it around.’ He has the right mentality for golf and that’s why he’s been successful.”
Pae said working with Ellis is why he had such a successful year.
“He was kind of a mentor to me,” he said. “I played with him every day and he’s a really good player. I just wanted to be as good as he was.”
Pae said he did get the better of Ellis a few times this season, something that was as satisfying as some of his tournament rounds this season.
While he didn’t advance past district’s to state, the son of Bill Pae and Vicki Palinkas said the experience of reaching that level, where he shot an 86, was a great experience.
“It was a really fund experience,” he said. “It was definitely a little nerve racking because I had never been there before. It was a good experience and I think it’ll help my golf career.”
A career which Pae hopes to continue as a walk-on at Cleveland State University next year.
Pae said his parents were key in his development as a player.
“My dad (Bill) was very supportive,” he said. “I don’t come from a very wealthy family and he helped out a lot with paying for my membership and stuff. My mom (Vicki) was very supportive giving me money for equipment and things I needed. They just wanted me to do the best that I could. They are very loving parents.”
The prospect of continuing his golf career following high school was something Pae admitted he hadn’t thought of much when he entered high school.
“I didn’t, not at all,” he said. “I never saw myself playing college golf. I just loved playing the game since I was about 8 years old.”
As a potential walk on Pae said he doesn’t have any expectations for how it will go next season, but knows what he needs to do to get there.
“I definitely need to improve my putting and get my mental game better,” he said. “This year, I was mentally focused a lot more and I think that’s part of why I was so successful.”
Peluso is a sports writer for the Star Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com.