Brooklyn, Massachusetts – Colin Morikawa was walking the aisles of The Country Club on Tuesday morning, showered by the crowds of fans who followed him. He’s a two-time major winner, after all, and one of the most universally loved players in professional golf. Get used to this kind of treatment.
But playing alongside Morikawa were two unfamiliar faces. Instead of playing with fellow Tour stars in preparation for the US Open, the 25-year-old caught two amateurs – Nicholas Dunlap and Michael Thorbjornsen.
It doesn’t mean you’ll know they were amateurs with their looks. The two guys are rocking this week – just like the pros – and their approach to training sessions has looked professional, too. In every hole, they prepared for every conceivable scenario – chips from unusual places, delay strikes from the far corners of position surfaces and lines suitable for blind landing spots.
Then there was the way they hit the ball.
Dunlap and Thorburnson have who – which It beeps when calling, and they outperform Morikawa in a number of holes. If strength is the way the game is headed, then the next generation does. These guys can smoking He. She.
“[Michael] Morikawa said. “He’s got a great future ahead of him if he still wants to keep it up… It was so much fun seeing him and Nick and going back to what it was three or four years ago trying to take it all in.”
Morikawa isn’t the only one who walked away from the day impressed. After a short nine-hole trek around The Country Club on Tuesday morning, GOLF.com caught up with buffs for a takeaway from playing with a two-time major winner.
This is what they had to say.
Nicholas Dunlap is among the top junior golfers in the country, and his victory last summer earned him the junior American amateur a spot on this week’s field. It’s an opportunity he doesn’t take for granted.
It’s amazing,” Dunlap said. “You’re 18 and you’re playing on the biggest stage of golf with a big champ. It’s really cool.”
Dunlap said the biggest thing he’s learned from the day is getting insight into how he manages his schedule as he makes the leap from junior golf to amateur golf (and eventually, professional golf).
“I just picked his mind up about time management,” Dunlap said. “Especially in weeks like these. I think this will really help me move forward.”
Even at the ripe old age of twenty, Michael Thorbjornsen has a decorated resume. He has already made a dip at the US Open (2019) and among his big wins is the US Open and Western Amateur. Yes, he’s got some serious gaming.
But even with a resume that most amateurs would kill for, Thorbjornsen knows he has a lot to learn. And he took that mindset with him on his training tour with Morikawa (whom he calls his “favourite player”).
“I asked [Morikawa] On the fourth hole today, ‘What’s the one thing you’re going to tell me to get better – to get to the next level? Because I’m going to do it,’ said Thorbjoersen.
Morikawa’s answer was simple: lower your position in the three strokes.
“It’s something I already knew, but hearing it from him meant more,” Thorbjornsen said.
The lessons did not end there.
“He also gave me some advice for playing with the biggest players I can be, the ones I look up to the most,” Thorbjornsen said. “Because that would make it look more natural in there. Like it’s just another round of golf.”
Keep in mind that the job is done at The Country Club.