Thorbjornsen logs best am finish in a PGA Tour event since 2016
- Metropolitan Golf Association photo
When Michael Thorbjornsen
rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at the par-3 11th hole at TPC River Highlands, the minds of all watching could be forgiven for racing ahead to envision a feat that had last occurred in 1991.
Then, another 20-year-old amateur, Phil Mickelson, won the Tucson Open at another TPC (Starpass), edging tour veterans Tom Purtzer and Bob Tway by one shot.
With seven holes to go Sunday at the Travelers Championship, Thorbjornsen had climbed within one shot of overnight leader Xander Schauffele, with a chance to sprint to the clubhouse and post a target score.
But alas, Mickelson remains the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event, as Thorbjornsen was unable to sustain his charge, dropping a couple of shots coming in and finishing alone in fourth, four shots behind Schauffele.
Still, the Stanford rising junior's performance is the best finish by an amateur on the PGA Tour since Lee McCoy's solo fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship. Braden Thornberry was the last player to log a top-5 in a Tour event, finishing T4 at the 2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
More impressively, Thorbjornsen is the first amateur this century to finish in the top 10 of a PGA Tour event with a field strength above 400.
Rounds of 68-65-66-66 on the par-70 TPC River Highlands gave him a 15-under 265 total.
“It was incredible. It was surreal,” said Thorbjornsen after the round. “It’s better than how I dreamt about it. It’s so loud. It was very welcoming.”
“I can’t wait to come back next year and the following years.”
The former U.S. Junior champion received a sponsor exemption into the event, along with fellow amateur Ben James, a top junior player and Virginia commit, as well as newly-turned-professionals Chris Gotterup and Cole Hammer, fresh off of closing his amateur career with a national title at the University of Texas.
James and Hammer missed the cut, while Gotterup, who was the last amateur to log a top-10 in a PGA Tour event with a T7 in Puerto Rico earlier this year, tied for 35th at 7 under.
For Thorbjornsen, it was the latest step in an upward trajectory that started with a win at the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt (Boys 14-15 Division) at Augusta National, continued with a U.S. Junior Championship in 2019, and has seen him star at Stanford, win the Massachusetts Amateur, win the Western Amateur, hit the first shot of last week's U.S. Open at The Country Club, and now prove that he can contend on the PGA Tour.
The next step? Flying to London for a British Open qualifier, trying to qualify for a second-straight major, this time at the home of golf, St. Andrews.