At the US Open, Two Friends Watch the Francis Ouimet Channel

BROOKLINE, Mass. – The golf ball was buried in a bunker behind the green area, and Drew Cohen thought to himself, “He’s in jail. He’ll have to take the bunker shot of his life. ‘

Cohen, a longtime friend of Michael Thorbjorn’s amateur golfer and a full-time caddy, then saw the power coming in through the hole. Thorbjornsen did the same and flew into the next hole, and both went to the 2022 U.S. Open on June 6 in Purchase, NY, after surviving a eight-person qualifier.

The couple soon moved down to the Country Club outside of Boston, hitting the building on the golf course in addition to the golf course. There, they bought Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open champion, and T-shirts that matched the image of his kaddy, Eddie Lowery.

“We saw it and said, ‘Hey? Why not us?’ “Let’s make our history.”

That story would mean that Thorbjornsen, a Stanford University star, is doing what Ouimet did: winning the U.S. Open at the Country Club as a 20-year-old amateur. They both competed in the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

“I think,” Cohen said, “he has the ability to run this week.”

Cohen and Thorbjorns have been inseparable friends since they met in primary school. Thorbjornsen-ek Wellesley, Mass. When he left Boston, after high school, he went to the IMG Academy in Florida to work on his golf game, Cohen continued. But while Thorbjorns stayed for three years, Cohen was the only one.

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

Cohen also lost too much in hockey. And when Thorbjornsen returned to Wellesley to finish high school, Cohen, the college boys hockey captain, made sure his friend was named team leader.

But their connection has been strengthened through golf. Cohen started making Thorbjorns caddy last summer and good things happened. Thorbjornsen won the Western Amateur in July 2021. He advanced to the U.S. Amateur 32 finals.

This summer, Cohen, a junior rising at the University of Wisconsin, had a choice: he could do an internship at an investment bank or continue his courses with Thorbjornsen. With his mother’s blessing, he chose the latter.

“I told him he had plenty of time to sit behind a table,” Goldberg said. “Go away.”

That was fine for Thorbjornsen.

“He knows me as well as anyone,” Thorbjornsen said. “As a person and as a golfer. He knows when to leave me alone, and he knows when to say something. ‘

On Thursday morning, the two will be at the first tee, where Thorbjornsen is scheduled to play one of the first shots of the 2022 U.S. Open due to local ties. Another Massachusetts native, Fran Quinn, the oldest player in the tournament at 57, will start the 10th jersey at the same time.

Thorbjornsen played in a US Open in 2019 at Pebble Beach in California, where he made his level. Cohen was not in his bag that week.

“He needed a professional,” Cohen said. “We were both 17. Can you imagine?”

That tournament was Thorbjornsen’s departure party in terms of national attention. He started playing golf at the age of 2, entered the national championships at the age of 6 and won at the age of 10. He had an impressive junior career before a scholarship to Stanford.

“Michael always had great hand-eye coordination,” said his father, Thorbjorn, as well as Ted. During those years, the senior Thorbjornsen would take his son to Rockland (Mass.), About 30 miles from Wellesley, to a top golf training facility every day. They often returned home before midnight.

“Homework should be done in the car,” Ted Thorbjornsen said. “The teachers would all be angry. But all this time, I’m thinking that this kid is smart and that you’re never going to get that time back. “

The father and son had not seen each other for three years this week, partly due to the pandemic. Michael Thorbjorn’s parents have divorced and Ted lives in Abu Dhabi. The two men, however, have been in frequent communication during this time, Michael has sent golf videos to his father and Ted has criticized them.

“Of course we have a normal friction between father and son,” Ted said, “but never when it comes to golf. It’s kind of our code language. He never argues. He trusts me.”

He also trusts his kaddyan.

“It’s the calm of Drew Michael’s storm,” Goldberg said, taking both of them home from Wellesley last week before heading to a hotel for the tournament.

Cohen and Thorbjorns will be in Connecticut for next week’s Travelers Tournament. The tournament extended the invitation after Thorbjorns qualified for the US Open. The two will then travel to Scotland for the British Open qualifiers and Switzerland for the Arnold Palmer Cup, and perhaps to Greece for a stopover. Then come the two big amateur tournaments in August: Western and US Amateur.

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

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t focus directly on what’s in front of him.

He asked Morikawa about his life on the PGA Tour on Tuesday. Morikawa, who has only been a professional since 2019, said the experience of the fans at such an event could be “awesome”.

Morikawa continued: “It was nice to see how I prepared to go back to college, how I prepared as a child. I think the biggest thing is to learn your routines and come to these places and guess the ropes. You have to learn to stay on your street.”

Thorbjornsen is aware of the financial attractions of the new Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf series, but said his professional plans have been disrupted. However, he did offer a suggestion to the PGA Tour to attract high-ranking college students like himself.

“Maybe they could do something like offer the PGA cards to the top five players in college,” Thorbjornsen said. “That would provide an incentive.”

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