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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff
When Declan Buckley saw Michael Thorbjornsen put his bag down by the tee, his heart sank. “It was very intimidating seeing Michael Thorbjornsen coming out to compete,” said Buckley, “because he is one of the top golfers in the country and he won the National Drive, Chip and Putt last year.” Wellesley’s Thorbjornsen, a precociously talented golfer of 14, has made a name for himself with some impressive outings on the links, including shooting a 69 (the low round) in the Massachusetts Open qualifiers, his first event against adults and professionals.
And here he was, shoulder to shoulder with Buckley at this year’s Drive, Chip and Putt local qualifier in Uxbridge. Drive, Chip and Putt is a free nationwide junior golf development competition that culminates in the National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
“Even though seeing him was very intimidating,” continued Buckley, “I did not change my strategy, which was to put all three drives on the fairway, have decent chips and rely on the strength of my game, which is putting.”
A short time later, Declan was accepting first prize at the podium as he stood next to Thorbjornsen, the second-place winner.
Buckley had won the day, scoring a 52, 30, and 60 on the drive, chip and putt rounds, respectively - all out of a possible 75. Buckley’s total of 142 had edged out Thorbjornsen’s 135.
For his part, Buckley was playing it cool, neither too high nor too low in the wake of his victory. “Going into the day, I was a little bit nervous, because my golf game was not at its best,” he said. “But overall, I was excited to compete against some of the top golfers from the area.”
Now, there will be more of the area’s top golfers waiting for him at the sub-regionals. This time around, though, he’ll be a little more accustomed to the rigorous competition.
“I do think that I will be better prepared to handle the pressure of the sub-regional round,” he said, “but it will still be very nerve-racking. The sub-regional is one step closer to playing at Augusta National next April.”