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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
All-world junior golf prospect Michael Thorbjornsen is still coming up big in pressure situations. This time, though, the Wellesley native’s abilities in the clutch have landed him an opportunity he’s dreamed of ever since he first picked up a golf club: the chance to play in the US Open at Pebble Beach.
Entering Saturday, it had been around a year since Thorbjornsen had taken home first place in a tournament. After cruising through the early rounds of the bracket for the 71st US Amateur Championship and winning four matches before the start of the 17th hole, the rising junior at IMG Academy faced off against Akshay Bhatia for a 36-hole final on Saturday at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey with a trip to next summer’s US Open on the line.
After falling behind three strokes and two after the first 18, Thorbjornsen evened the match twice on hole No.’s 22 and 30 before pulling ahead of Bhatia on the 32nd hole by driving the green on the 302-yard par-four and tapping in for birdie after narrowly missing an eagle putt.
The Wellesley product made par on each of the next four holes to maintain his one-shot lead. His opponent missed a birdie putt on 36, allowing Thorbjornsen to lay up close the pin and tap in for the match-clinching par. Thorbjornsen finished the match with a 75 on the first 18 and a 69 on the final 18, while Bhatia scored a 72 on each set of 18.
Along with qualifying to 119th US Open next summer at Pebble Beach, Thorbjornsen also earned automatic bids into the 2019 and 2020 US Junior Amateur Championships. Thorbjornsen is the first Massachusetts resident to win the US Junior Amateur Championship.
What makes this championship even more remarkable is that it comes just 10 days after Thorbjornsen was hospitalized due to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and an infection in one of his teeth.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.