PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One week, 17-year-old Michael Thorbjornsen is wrapping up his junior year of high school. The next, he’s playing the weekend at the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
“Just seeing all the pros that I watch on TV, I’m playing with them now,” he said. “That’s pretty cool.”
But the weekend ticket didn’t come without some drama. Thorbjornsen, who recently moved back home from the IMG Academy in Florida to Wellesley, Mass., was cruising in his second round, chipping in for birdie on the iconic par-3 seventh and looking solidly within the cutline when things started to get wobbly. Bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes put him 1 over for the championship as he stepped to the final tee.
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“It’s just some mental errors that I didn’t really think about,” said the youngest player in the field. “Just careless play.”
Thorbjornsen took driver out, thinking he needed to make something happen on the closing par 5 and pulled it into Stillwater Cove.
“With driver I can get a mid- to long-iron there,” he said. “With that going in the water, I took a 4-iron off the tee and from there it was pretty much I had to make birdie on this ball to make bogey.”
He drained a 7-foot putt on the last hole for bogey to finish at 2 over for the tournament. Though clearly disappointed, Thorbjornsen still managed to find a silver lining.
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“I’m just proud of myself for that, getting back and just not giving up,” he said shortly after signing his card. “If I make the cut I make it, if I don’t, well then I’ll be here for two extra days of nothing.”
Only it won’t be nothing.
After a long wait, the 2018 U.S. Junior champ and Stanford commit is one of four amateurs to make the cut. He’s only the second 17-year-old to make the cut at the U.S. Open in the last decade, joining Beau Hossler (2012).
Jordan Spieth, Ryo Ishikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Matthew Kim, Matteo Manassero, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Nick Hardy are the only other players since 2010 who have played the weekend as teenagers.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Thorbjornsen of his first major experience.
And it’s only getting better.
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