BROOKLINE, Mass. — The golf ball was buried in a bunker behind the inexperienced, 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 buddy and full-time caddie of the beginner golfer Michael Thorbjornsen, then watched him energy to inside a foot of the opening. Thorbjornsen made par after which birdied the subsequent gap, and the 2 have been off to the 2022 U.S. Open, having survived an eight-man qualifier for 3 spots on June 6 in Buy, N.Y.
The pair quickly descended on the Nation Membership exterior Boston, hitting the merchandise constructing along with the golf course. There, they purchased matching T-shirts with a picture of Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open champion, and his caddie, Eddie Lowery.
“We noticed them and mentioned: ‘Hey? Why not us?’” Cohen mentioned Tuesday after he and Thorbjornsen traversed the Nation Membership’s entrance 9 with Collin Morikawa and Nick Dunlap, the 2021 U.S. Junior Newbie Championship winner. “Let’s make our personal historical past.”
That historical past would imply Thorbjornsen, a star at Stanford College, does what Ouimet did: win the U.S. Open on the Nation Membership as a 20-year-old beginner. Each entered their tournaments because the defending Massachusetts Newbie champion.
“I feel,” Cohen mentioned, “he has the capability to make a run this week.”
Cohen and Thorbjornsen have been inseparable associates since first assembly in center college. When Thorbjornsen left Wellesley, Mass., a Boston suburb, after center college, for IMG Academy in Florida to work on his golf sport, Cohen adopted. However whereas Thorbjornsen stayed for 3 years, Cohen remained for only one.
“Drew was an excellent golfer,” his mom, Lisa Goldberg, mentioned. “He simply wasn’t Michael-good.”
Cohen additionally missed hockey an excessive amount of. And when Thorbjornsen returned to Wellesley to complete highschool, Cohen, the varsity boys’ hockey captain, made certain his buddy was named staff supervisor.
However it’s by way of golf that their bond has grown even stronger. Cohen began caddying for Thorbjornsen final summer time and good issues occurred. Thorbjornsen gained the Western Newbie in July 2021. He superior to the spherical of 32 on the U.S. Newbie.
This summer time, Cohen, a rising junior on the College of Wisconsin, had a option to make: He may take an internship at an funding financial institution or proceed strolling programs with Thorbjornsen. Together with his mom’s blessing, he selected the latter.
“I informed him he had loads of time to sit down behind a desk,” Goldberg mentioned. “Go for it.”
That was positive for Thorbjornsen.
“He is aware of me in addition to anybody,” Thorbjornsen mentioned. “As an individual and a golfer. He is aware of when to go away me alone, and he is aware of when to say one thing.”
On Thursday morning, the 2 can be on the primary tee, the place Thorbjornsen is scheduled to hit one of many first pictures of the 2022 U.S. Open due to his native ties. One other Massachusetts native, Fran Quinn, the oldest participant within the match at 57, will begin on the similar time on the tenth tee.
Thorbjornsen has performed in a single U.S. Open, in 2019 at Pebble Seashore in California, the place he made the minimize. Cohen was not on his bag that week.
“He wanted knowledgeable,” Cohen mentioned. “We have been each 17. Are you able to think about?”
That match was Thorbjornsen’s coming-out get together when it comes to nationwide consideration. He had began enjoying golf at age 2, coming into nationwide tournaments at 6 and successful them by 10. A spectacular junior profession preceded a scholarship to Stanford.
“Michael at all times had wonderful hand-eye coordination,” mentioned his father, Thorbjorn, who additionally goes by Ted. By way of these years, the senior Thorbjornsen would drive his son to a state-of-the-art golf coaching facility in Rockland, Mass., about 30 miles from Wellesley, every day. They might usually return house simply earlier than midnight.
“He must do his homework within the automobile,’’ Ted Thorbjornsen mentioned. “The lecturers would all get mad. However all this time, I’m pondering that this child is wise and also you by no means get that point again.”
Father and son had not seen one another for 3 years earlier than this week, partially due to the coronavirus pandemic. Michael Thorbjornsen’s dad and mom are divorced, and Ted lives in Abu Dhabi. The 2 males have nonetheless communicated steadily over that point, with Michael sending his father golf movies of himself and Ted critiquing them.
“Positive, we’ve got the conventional friction between father and son,” Ted mentioned, “however by no means with regards to golf. It’s a type of code language we’ve got. He by no means argues. He trusts me.”
He trusts his caddie, too.
“Drew is the calm to Michael’s storm,” mentioned Goldberg, who housed the 2 in her Wellesley house final week earlier than they moved right into a resort for the match.
Cohen and Thorbjornsen can be in Connecticut subsequent week for the Vacationers Championship. The match prolonged an invite after Thorbjornsen certified for the U.S. Open. The 2 will then journey to Scotland for British Open qualifying and Switzerland for the Arnold Palmer Cup, and maybe Greece for some downtime. Then come the 2 huge beginner tournaments in August — the Western and U.S. Amateurs.
Thorbjornsen mentioned he deliberate to return to Stanford for his junior 12 months. The Cardinal had a disappointing season final 12 months, however, Thorbjornsen warned, “be careful for us subsequent 12 months!”
That’s not to say he isn’t specializing in what’s instantly in entrance of him.
He peppered Morikawa with questions on Tuesday about life on the PGA Tour. Morikawa, himself a professional solely since 2019, mentioned the beginner expertise at an occasion like this may very well be “overwhelming.”
Morikawa continued: “It was cool to type of return to how I prepped in faculty, how I prepped as a junior. I feel the largest factor is simply studying your routines and coming to those locations and determining the ropes. It’s important to learn to simply keep in your personal lane.”
Thorbjornsen is conscious of the monetary enticements of the brand new Saudi-backed LIV Golf sequence, however mentioned his skilled plans have been on maintain. He did, nevertheless, supply a suggestion to the PGA Tour for attracting prime collegians like himself.
“Possibly they might do one thing like supply PGA playing cards to the top-five faculty gamers,” Thorbjornsen mentioned. “That would supply an incentive.”