Brooklyn, Massachusetts. Michael Thorbjornsen didn’t grow up across the street from The Country Club, but his family home is 15 minutes away in the town of Wellesley. The 20-year-old hobbyist isn’t using his 10-year-old’s stroller this week at the US Open, but will have his childhood friend, Drew Cohen, in his bag.
Indeed, the similarities between Thorbjornsen and Frances Ouimet, the famous winner of the first American Open played at The Country Club in 1913, are loose but not so loose as to prevent a sophomore at Stanford from hoping that Ouimet’s ghost might shine. for him.
“My bag and I went to the cargo tent on a Thursday or so, and bought matching shirts,” Thorbjornsen said of a T-shirt with a 1913 print on the front and an Ouimet silhouette and Eddie Lowery handbag. “I’m definitely trying to channel that energy this week.”
The truth is, Thorbjornsen, the reigning Massachusetts Amateur Champion (as Ouimet in 1913), has been looking forward to a USGA visit to The Country Club since it was announced six years ago. While you would have played the course once you were growing up, the opportunity to compete in front of friends and family was too great for her dream to come true.
Playing in a major tournament, even with a party crowd, can be a daunting task for Thorbjornsen. But he is spoiled by the fact that this is not his first start at the US Open. By winning the 2018 US Junior Amateur, he competed in the 2019 US Open in Pebble Beach, and made the cut, only to shoot 84-76 in the weekend to finish in 79th place.
“I guess I didn’t really know what was going on at the time. I remember it now and I’m thinking, How did I go through this week?” Thorbjornsen said. “Yeah, I definitely learned a lot. My game has definitely gotten a lot better. I’m just excited to get out and play on Thursday.”
Thorbjornsen had a strong amateur golf summer in 2021, winning the Amateur Western and advancing to the US Amateur second round in Oakmont. During the 2021-22 college season, the sophomore at Stanford continued to excel with an average of 70.66 strokes and six places out of the top ten. He played the playoffs in Buy, New York, after surviving an eight-on-three-point playoff with a birdie on the second extra hole.
After the US Open, Thorbjornsen will play on sponsor exemption in the PGA Tour Travelers Championship next week before traveling to Europe to try to qualify for the Open Championship. Then he will compete in the Palmer Cup.
Amazingly, playing in the US Open – where he will hit the opening ball of the tournament on Thursday – may be the second most exciting thing that has happened to Thorbjornsen recently. Late last week, Michael met his father, Ted, who works for a company in Abu Dhabi, for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic and other factors.
“It was great to see him again,” Thorbjornsen said. “We’re doing our best to be a few thousand miles away.”
This applies to golf as well. Ted has been Michael’s golf coach since he started the game in his youth. Despite being thousands of miles apart, the two continued to work together as a player and coach.
“He basically got someone to record the video and send the video to me, and I put in the lines and the analysis we’ve been doing since he was 6, so we know what we’ve been looking for,” Ted said Monday at The Country Club. “He gets a confirmation and sees if there’s something to work on. I write the report and send it to him for his review. I hope he goes through it. Next time I get the video I can see if he’s worked on it or not. He’s usually pretty good at capturing it.” You can see the improvement.”
The videos usually come in a few times a month, with a sudden flurry of Ted’s inbox earlier this spring.
“It’s exciting to see him play in person,” said Ted. “Exciting and less stressful.”
The same for Michael. But hopefully, Ouimet’s ghost can help him find his way around The Country Club.