Thorbjornsen, PGA TOUR U’s new No1, has limitless potential

Photo of Michael Thorbjornsen, golf player

Michael Thorbjornsen, golf player.

After Sandra Thorbjornsen missed her tee time due to going into labor with her fourth child, Michael Andreas, she wasted no time and returned to the golf course the very next day with her newborn son. It’s evident that Michael Thorbjornsen was destined for golf greatness.

Fast forward twenty-one years, and he has firmly established himself as one of the most promising prospects in the sport. With a powerful swing honed under the guidance of his father, Thorbjorn Thorbjornsen, Michael embodies the modern golfer, excelling on prestigious courses throughout his career.

Now, he stands on the brink of potentially earning a PGA TOUR card, just months away. Presently, Michael holds the top spot in PGA TOUR University’s inaugural ranking for the Class of 2024, unveiled on Wednesday. If he maintains this position through next year’s NCAA Championship, he will secure immediate TOUR status.

Sandra, affectionately known as Mom, played college golf at Ursuline College in Ohio, while her husband, Ted, has been Michael’s lifelong swing coach. In 2018, Michael’s victory at the U.S. Junior Amateur in Baltusrol Golf Club elevated him to the status of an elite player, defeating Akshay Bhatia, who has since become a PGA TOUR winner.

At a mere 17 years and 8 months old, he became the second-youngest player since World War II to make the cut in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Hailing from Wellesley, Massachusetts, Michael made a remarkable achievement during his high school junior year, climbing into the top 30 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings, a feat rarely accomplished by a prep player.

While initially considering an early pro career, the introduction of PGA TOUR U offered him a clear path for his professional journey, allowing him the opportunity to earn PGA TOUR status right after the NCAA Championship. Michael’s success has come at a perfect time, garnering him recognition and admiration.

His outstanding performance at professional events and major college golf tournaments has been evident. Notably, he secured an impressive fourth-place finish at the Travelers Championship, the best by an amateur on the PGA TOUR in years. His skills have also shone at other events, such as the DP World Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic and the John Deere Classic.

Stanford men’s golf coach Conrad Ray commends Michael’s ability to thrive under pressure, showcasing his ease in handling challenging shots and stressful situations. Michael excels in significant moments, displaying his confidence on the course.

The latest PGA TOUR U standings place Michael at the top spot, closely followed by Christo Lamprecht at No. 2. Like last year’s top-ranked player, Ludvig Aberg from Texas Tech, Michael’s remarkable driving ability sets him apart, consistently ranking high in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Driving Distance.

As he readies himself for the professional scene, Michael’s course management and short game have significantly improved, contributing to the consistency crucial for a player’s growth and maturity.

During high school at the Florida-based IMG Academy, Thorbjornsen gained valuable experience being away from home. However, the transition to Stanford presented its challenges. Despite excelling both academically and on the golf course, coping with the increased academic demands and tougher competition was a notable adjustment, especially with the added complexities of the pandemic.

Despite being highly regarded as one of the top recruits in the Class of 2020, his initial season at Stanford did not yield a single top 10 finish, and his scoring average settled at 72.1. This period of imbalance in both his game and the world fueled his determination for greater success. At that juncture, Thorbjornsen was still exploring his true potential, which had yet to be fully unleashed.

The summer amateur schedule presented an excellent opportunity for him to test his abilities. He commenced with the Massachusetts Amateur, where he achieved an impressive 8 and 6 victory over former U.S. Mid-Am champ Matt Parziale in the final, securing birdies on 12 of the first 16 holes.

Shortly thereafter, he set a course record of 62 at the Western Amateur’s 72-hole stroke play segment and went on to win the tournament with a convincing 4-and-3 victory over Gordon Sargent in the final match.

These achievements provided a much-needed boost in confidence and further solidified his commitment to pursuing a career in golf. Upon returning to Stanford, Thorbjornsen’s progress continued as he earned several top-five finishes and reduced his scoring average by over a stroke.

However, he realized that progress extended beyond his performance on the golf course. He sought balance in his life by prioritizing better care of his body, staying focused on his studies, and allowing himself time away from golf. He recognized the importance of remembering his youth and balancing his dedication to both golf and academics with the understanding that he was still just a kid.


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