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On the U.S. Open, Two Friends Look to Channel Francis Ouimet


BROOKLINE, Mass. — The golf ball was buried in a bunker behind the green, and Drew Cohen thought to himself: “He’s in jail. He’s going to wish to drag off the bunker shot of his life.”

Cohen, the longtime friend and full-time caddie of the amateur golfer Michael Thorbjornsen, then watched him power to inside a foot of the outlet. Thorbjornsen made par after which birdied the following hole, and the 2 were off to the 2022 U.S. Open, having survived an eight-man qualifier for 3 spots on June 6 in Purchase, N.Y.

The pair soon descended on the Country Club outside Boston, hitting the merchandise constructing along with the golf course. There, they bought matching T-shirts with a picture of Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open champion, and his caddie, Eddie Lowery.

“We saw them and said: ‘Hey? Why not us?’” Cohen said Tuesday after he and Thorbjornsen traversed the Country Club’s front nine with Collin Morikawa and Nick Dunlap, the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship winner. “Let’s make our own history.”

That history would mean Thorbjornsen, a star at Stanford University, does what Ouimet did: win the U.S. Open on the Country Club as a 20-year-old amateur. Each entered their tournaments because the defending Massachusetts Amateur champion.

“I believe,” Cohen said, “he has the capability to make a run this week.”

Cohen and Thorbjornsen have been inseparable friends since first meeting in middle school. When Thorbjornsen left Wellesley, Mass., a Boston suburb, after middle school, for IMG Academy in Florida to work on his golf game, Cohen followed. But while Thorbjornsen stayed for 3 years, Cohen remained for only one.

“Drew was golfer,” his mother, Lisa Goldberg, said. “He just wasn’t Michael-good.”

Cohen also missed hockey an excessive amount of. And when Thorbjornsen returned to Wellesley to complete highschool, Cohen, the varsity boys’ hockey captain, made sure his friend was named team manager.

Nevertheless it is thru golf that their bond has grown even stronger. Cohen began caddying for Thorbjornsen last summer and good things happened. Thorbjornsen won the Western Amateur in July 2021. He advanced to the round of 32 on the U.S. Amateur.

This summer, Cohen, a rising junior on the University of Wisconsin, had a alternative to make: He could take an internship at an investment bank or proceed walking courses with Thorbjornsen. Along with his mother’s blessing, he selected the latter.

“I told him he had loads of time to take a seat behind a desk,” Goldberg said. “Go for it.”

That was advantageous for Thorbjornsen.

“He knows me in addition to anyone,” Thorbjornsen said. “As an individual and a golfer. He knows when to depart me alone, and he knows when to say something.”

On Thursday morning, the 2 shall be on the primary tee, where Thorbjornsen is scheduled to hit one among the primary shots of the 2022 U.S. Open due to his local ties. One other Massachusetts native, Fran Quinn, the oldest player within the tournament at 57, will start at the identical time on the tenth tee.

Thorbjornsen has played in a single U.S. Open, in 2019 at Pebble Beach in California, where he made the cut. Cohen was not on his bag that week.

“He needed an expert,” Cohen said. “We were each 17. Are you able to imagine?”

That tournament was Thorbjornsen’s coming-out party by way of national attention. He had began playing golf at age 2, entering national tournaments at 6 and winning them by 10. A spectacular junior profession preceded a scholarship to Stanford.

“Michael at all times had excellent hand-eye coordination,” said his father, Thorbjorn, who also goes by Ted. Through those years, the senior Thorbjornsen would drive his son to a state-of-the-art golf training facility in Rockland, Mass., about 30 miles from Wellesley, each day. They might often return home just before midnight.

“He would should do his homework within the automotive,” Ted Thorbjornsen said. “The teachers would all get mad. But all this time, I’m considering that this kid is wise and also you never get that point back.”

Father and son had not seen one another for 3 years before this week, partially due to the pandemic. Michael Thorbjornsen’s parents are divorced, and Ted lives in Abu Dhabi. The 2 men have nonetheless communicated incessantly over that point, with Michael sending his father golf videos of himself and Ted critiquing them.

“Sure, we’ve got the conventional friction between father and son,” Ted said, “but never with regards to golf. It’s a kind of code language we’ve got. He never argues. He trusts me.”

He trusts his caddie, too.

“Drew is the calm to Michael’s storm,” said Goldberg, who housed the 2 in her Wellesley home last week before they moved right into a hotel for the tournament.

Cohen and Thorbjornsen shall be in Connecticut next week for the Travelers Championship. The tournament prolonged an invite after Thorbjornsen qualified for the U.S. Open. The 2 will then travel to Scotland for British Open qualifying and Switzerland for the Arnold Palmer Cup, and maybe Greece for some downtime. Then come the 2 big amateur tournaments in August — the Western and U.S. Amateurs.

Thorbjornsen said he planned to return to Stanford for his junior yr. The Cardinal had a disappointing season last yr, but, Thorbjornsen warned, “be careful for us next yr!”

That is just not to say he isn’t specializing in what’s directly in front of him.

He peppered Morikawa with questions on Tuesday about life on the PGA Tour. Morikawa, himself a professional only since 2019, said the amateur experience at an event like this might be “overwhelming.”

Morikawa continued: “It was cool to type of return to how I prepped in college, how I prepped as a junior. I believe the most important thing is just learning your routines and coming to those places and determining the ropes. You might have to learn how one can just stay in your individual lane.”

Thorbjornsen is aware of the financial enticements of the brand new Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, but said his skilled plans were on hold. He did, nonetheless, offer a suggestion to the PGA Tour for attracting top collegians like himself.

“Perhaps they may do something like offer PGA cards to the top-five college players,” Thorbjornsen said. “That might provide an incentive.”

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