BROOKLINE, Mass. — Francis Ouimet. Michael Thorbjornsen.
They may be separated by more than 100 years, but the goal is the same: Win the U.S. Open.
In 1913, Ouimet, who grew up across the street from The Country Club, claimed the Open championship as a 20-year-old amateur. Now, 109 years later, Thorbjornsen, who grew up 15 minutes away from the famed course in Brookline, is attempting to do the same.
“It’s really cool the position that I’m in and how it emulates Francis a little bit,” Thorbjornsen said. “But, I mean, I’m a different person than him. I’m going to try to do the same thing that he did and just hope for the best.”
Hometown kid tries to win U.S. Open
This isn’t Thorbjornsen’s first jaunt at a U.S. Open.
In 2018, he won the U.S. Junior Amateur. The victory earned Thorbjornsen a spot in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach — where he made the cut as a 17-year-old and finished 79th.
The Wellesley High grad is trying to do a little better this time around. Thorbjornsen will tee off as part of the opening group at 6:45 a.m. ET Thursday.
“My game has definitely gotten a lot better,” Thorbjornsen said. “I’m just excited to go out and play on Thursday.”
This week, Thorbjornsen has enjoyed a growing entourage.
Friends and family flock each fairway during practice rounds. On his bag is longtime friend and now caddie, Drew Cohen, who graduated from Wellesley High with Thorbjornsen in 2020. The two friends even bought matching T-shirts that have “1913” written on the front with a silhouette of Ouimet and his caddie, Eddie Lowery.
“Definitely trying to channel that energy this week,” Thorbjornsen said.
“He’s a hometown kid, he’s an amateur and I feel like that says it right there,” Cohen said. “We’re going to try to pull off something special here.”
To get to Brookline, Thorbjornsen secured one of three spots in an eight-player playoff at the Final Qualifying in Purchase, New York. The Stanford sophomore has had a solid build-up to the qualifying as he compiled a 70.66 stroke average during his 2021-22 season.
Now, he’s competing for a major championship as an amateur.
“It feels like a home event,” Thorbjornsen said. “That’s why it feels really good just having all the support. It’s kind of nerve-wracking out there, just playing in the U.S. Open, especially 15 minutes away from my house. All the help, all the support, (it) definitely helps a lot.”
His father is his coach
Joining Thorbjornsen this week is his golf coach, who also happens to be his father.
The last time Thorbjorsen saw his dad, Ted, in person was in 2019 at the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst. Ted, who lives in Abu Dhabi, made sure he wasn’t going to miss seeing his son play in Brookline this week.
“It’s nice seeing your son at the U.S. Open,” Ted said. “That’s what you wish for. I know that’s what he’s been wishing for so, so long. You don’t get such an opportunity, again, when you’re 20 years old at The Country Club.”
At a news conference on Monday, Thorbjornsen mentioned he and his father do the best they can with his swing mechanics despite being separated by a couple thousand miles. He also had a special message for his father at the presser.
“It’s really good to have you out here, Dad,” Thorbjornsen said. “Thanks for coming.”
The entire Wellesley community will come in droves on Thursday and Friday to see Michael Thorbjornsen tee it up. He’s hoping to replicate what another amateur did more than a century ago.
“It almost seems like a dream but it’s a reality,” Cohen said.
“I’m just extremely grateful for these two opportunities to play against the best players in the world,” Thorbjornsen said, “and (I’m) just really looking forward to start on Thursday.”