Michael Thorbjornsen (Allyson Mollung, Mass Golf)
According to research from the United States Golf Association (USGA), Saturday was the first time two past USGA champions were competing in a state amateur final.
Soak that in for a minute.
In the New England state with the best reputation for turning out future stars of the game, Michael Thorbjornsen defeated Matt Parziale for the Massachusetts Amateur title on Saturday at Brae Burn Country Club. It was one of the most legendary performance in the championship's storied history -- players like Parziale (34, Brockton) who have won the U.S. Mid-Amateur and competed in the U.S. Open just don't lose 8-and-6. Especially when they shoot 67, like he did, for the first 18 holes.
But Thorbjornsen, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Stanford University, started off with five-straight birdies and birdied a total of 12 of the first 16 holes. His name may be tough to spell, but his scorecard was easy to keep.
And if starting off with five birdies wasn't enough, Thorbjornsen repeated the feat on Nos. 12-16.
"I didn't really realize I had two stretches of five birdies in a row until after the round when I was looking at a scorecard," said Thorbjornsen.
" I mean those first five just came up on me pretty quickly. Just driving the green, two-putting, and then having some tap-ins the next couple of holes just feels really good. And then birdieing the first five, it's just kind of tough to compete against whoever you're playing, so I feel like that's what really set me up well later on."
The Wellesley resident is the first player under the age of 20 to win the Mass Amateur since Jim Salinetti captured the title in 1997.
Thorbjornsen (Wellesley Country Club) won the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur, and Parziale (Thorney Lea) won the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur. Both players competed in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. (They might want to think about playing as partners in the U.S. Four-Ball.)
Despite shooting 5-under 67 on his own ball for he first 18, Parziale was 7-down as the duo took a lunch break, hoping that Thornbjornsen might cool down a bit.
But Thorbjornsen made birdie on the first hole in the afternoon to make it 8-up, and though Parziale made birdie to win holes 6 and 9, Thorbjornsen took a 7-up lead to the par-3 12th hole, and though Parziale hit the flag with his tee shot, he missed the birdie putt and conceded the match.
Parziale was disappointed with the outcome, but not his own game. And he gave full credit to his opponent:
He’s a world-beater," said Parziale. "He’s incredible. I met him a few years ago. He's a great kid, he’s got all the talent in the world. I’m rooting for him, and it’s his to take. He has a bright future if he keeps going in this space."
-- Mass. Golf contributed to this story
ABOUT THE Massachusetts Amateur
Qualifying - 32 Holes at Stroke Play to determine
32 Qualifiers for Match Play. Entries are open to
amateur golfers who have an active MGA/GHIN
Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private,
municipal or non-real estate MGA member course/club
not exceeding 4.4.
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