Michael Thorbjornsen made quite a first impression at the Western Amateur at Glen View Club in suburban Chicago.
In his debut performance, the 19-year-old Stanford sophomore shot a course-record 62 Wednesday on his way to earning medalist honors and, eventually, the George R. Thorne Trophy for overall champion. Thorbjornsen beat Vanderbilt freshman Gordon Sargent, of Birmingham, Alabama, 4 and 3, in Saturday’s championship match.
Thorbjornsen is the first solo medalist to win the overall title since Norman Xiong in 2017. He is just one of 27 players who have won both the stroke-play and match-play championships of this prestigious event, including Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, and Phil Mickelson.
“I was not aware of the select company I’m in now,” said Thorbjornsen, who also earned an invitation to the 2022 Evans Scholars Invitational on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Thorbjornsen, ranked No. 71 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), needed a late rally on Saturday morning to advance to the final. He trailed North Carolina junior Austin Greaser, 1 down, after Greaser holed out for birdie from a bunker on the par-3 14th. But Thorbjornsen birdied No. 15 – the most difficult hole all week – and followed with another at the 17th to take the lead for good.
He carried that momentum over to the final by winning four of the first six holes.
“He was locked in early,” said Drew Cohen, his best friend and caddie. “I could tell something special was going to happen. Even though we had that big lead, we didn’t want to overlook [Sargent] or get overconfident. But I will say Michael is very intimidating to play against.”
Thorbjornsen flexed his muscle during stroke play. His 8-under 62 in the second round established the Glen View Club course record, and he finished 13 under after 72 holes.
The 18-year-old Sargent, another Western Amateur first-timer, showcased his talent and potential all week. He shot 9 under during stroke play to take seventh, carding 65 in the second round. In the semifinals of match play, he defeated defending champion and Texas senior Pierceson Coody, 1 up. Coody is the No. 2-ranked player in the WAGR.
Thorbjornsen, fresh off a victory at the Massachusetts Amateur, plays next at the U.S. Amateur at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Sargent is waiting to see if his WAGR ranking improves enough to get him into the field.
“I definitely think this helps me snag a spot,” he said.
First played at Glen View Club in 1899, the Western Amateur is the world’s third oldest amateur championship, behind the British Amateur (1855) and the U.S. Amateur (1895).
Staff and Wire Reports