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Headline: Brown Stages Come-From-Behind Victory to Claim the 99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship; Thorbjorsen Wins Pre-Junior Division
For Immediate Release: August 2, 2017
Dillon Brown (top) won the 99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship title; Michael Thorbjorsen claimed the Pre-Junior (14-15) Division title.
South Hadley, MA — It was a horserace from start to finish that tested every last nerve over a three-day period, but when the last scorecard was signed it was Dillon Brown (CC of Halifax) who emerged victorious.
Brown carded a three-round score of 8-under par 205 at The Orchards Golf Club to capture the 99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship.
“It is exciting for me,” said Brown, a rising senior at Silver Lake Regional High School. “To win the State Golf Association Championship is just awesome.”
Brown put an exclamation point on the week by making birdie on three of his last six holes and posting a final round score of 4-under par 67. He finished two strokes ahead of Andrew O'Leary (Glen Ellen CC) and Alex Jamieson (Marshfield CC).
99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Tournament Quick Links
“This was one of the biggest tournaments of my summer coming in,” said Brown, who earlier this summer committed to play golf at the University of Maryland. “Obviously I wanted to win, but a good finish was what I looking for going into today.”
Brown entered Wednesday’s final round two back of the leaders after posting scores of 1-under par 70 and 2-under par 69 on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
The eventual champion delivered a statement early by making birdie on three of his first five holes to claim what was his first lead of the tournament.
“The first few holes I was feeling good,” said Brown. “I didn’t have to sink many putts. On the first hole I had an easy birdie, and on hole three I had a two putt. On the fifth hole I had six inches for a tap-in birdie.”
Brown, who was part of the second to last group of the day, played his next four holes at 1-over par. He no doubt heard the cheers when O’Leary roared back into contention with an ace – a hole in one on the 154-yard, par 3 5th hole.
Brown continued his solid play until suffering a double bogey on the 341-yard, par 4 12th hole.
“That’s when I knew that I had to make some birdies coming in,” said Brown.
He responded by making birdie on his very next hole – the 448-yard, par 4 13th hole.
Three holes later, Brown came upon his ball after a drive on the 449-yard, par 5 16th hole. He called his playing partners over because he was not sure if his ball was embedded or not. The ball was not embedded, but it was deep into the rough which left Brown with a tough second shot.
“I just hit it as best as I could to the front of the green and tried to two putt for birdie,” said Brown. “I took a club that I knew I couldn’t go over with.”
He ended up two putting from 45 feet for birdie. He went on to make par on the par-3 17th hole to set up a finish that he won’t soon forget.
With Jamieson and O’Leary on his heels (they were both at 7-under par at the time after O’Leary made an eagle on the 16th hole and Jamieson was 3-under on the back nine with two holes remaining), Brown found the fairway with his drive off the 18th tee.
He found the green from 155 yards out and was left with an uphill 18-foot putt for birdie.
“I knew that I couldn’t go long because when you are above this pin it’s very hard to two putt,” said Brown. “So I just took a soft 9 iron and put it below the pin. I knew that I was giving myself a good shot at birdie, and the putt just fell in on the left side luckily.”
The gallery of spectators – young and old – erupted in applause.
From there it was a waiting game. O’Leary made bogey on the 17th hole, and Jamieson was unable to make birdie on the final hole. As a result, Brown was crowned champion.
“The first day I hit the ball really well, and I felt that I should have shot better than what I did,” said Brown about the whirlwind three-day experience. “Yesterday I put myself in a pretty good position where I was starting only two back. I didn’t have the lead so I didn’t have to worry about falling back to anyone. I felt like I was in a good spot today and was happy with how I played.”
It may not have been a perfect week, but it was a winning week nonetheless for Michael Thorbjorsen (Nashawtuc CC), who posted a three-day score of 1-over par 214 to capture the Pre-Junior Division title.
Thorbjorsen, who is 15 years old and a rising sophomore at Florida’s IMG Golf Academy, bested Jack O’Donnell (Boston GC) by six strokes thanks in part to a final-round score of 1-under par 70 posted on Wednesday morning. The Pre-Junior Division is a title reserved for those competitors in the field who are 14 and 15 years old.
“Definitely coming into the week I wasn’t thinking only about the Pre Junior especially after last year’s finish,” said Thorbjorsen, referring to his T4 finish at the 2016 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship. “I was tied for the lead going into the last day and blew it. So today and during this whole tournament I was focused on winning the overall tournament, and luckily I was able to get the Pre-Junior title.”
This latest accomplishment adds to what is already an impressive golf resume for Thorbjorsen, who won the inaugural Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship in 2015. He was also twice named the U.S. Kids Golf National Player of the Year and won the 14-15 age group at the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.
This past summer, Thorbjorsen finished as Co-Low Amateur at the 2017 Massachusetts Open Championship and was T11 at the Ouimet Memorial Tournament. In mid July, he traveled to San Diego, California and finished T6 at the 2017 IMG Academy Junior World Championship.
“Low amateur at the Mass Open was one of my goals,” said Thorbjorsen, who is scheduled to return to school on August 20. “Then playing in the Ouimet I felt that I had a pretty good chance at having a good finish. I played in the IMG World Golf Championships and finished off with a good round. So overall it has been a pretty good summer especially adding on this finish here.”
Improving each day is always top of mind with Thorbjorsen and this week was no different.
Unfamiliar with the South Hadley layout, Thorbjorsen made adjustments to his game and strategy with each passing round. From small swing tweaks to golf course management, he was focused on improvement and in the end he had a divisional title to show for his efforts.
“On the first day I was hitting a lot fairways and just not making a lot of putts,” said Thorbjorsen. "On the second day I realized that the ground in some parts of the course is really hard and you can catch a lot of fliers. I didn’t know that on the first day, so I learned a lot going into today. I hit a couple of shots from the rough and compensated for that and thankfully got onto the green and two putted for par on most of the holes.”
Following back-to-back rounds of 1-over par 72, Thorbjorsen posted a solid final round on Wednesday that included two birdies and just one bogey. Although he was unable to catch the leaders who had built a sizeable lead through 36 holes, Thorbjorsen was able to create the needed distance from O’Donnell who was just one stroke back following Tuesday’s round.
Although he finished second in the Pre-Junior Division on this day, O’Donnell will always be a part of Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship history.
After all, he was the last competitor to win the Boys Division title (in 2014) before that division was retired and the Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship was introduced.
O’Donnell finished with a three-day score of 6-over par 219. Max Hutter (Weston GC) and Connor Willett (Charles River CC) – the 2016 Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Champion – finished T3.
As announced yesterday, the 100th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will be contested on August 6-9, 2018 at Belmont Country Club. In addition to playing the 100th such Championship, the host club will also be celebrating its Centennial year.
The 2018 Championship Proper will re-introduce match play following two days of stroke play in Belmont. Click here to read the full release on the format changes set for next season.
Many of the competitors in this year can already mark those dates in the calendar as a result of their performance this week in South Hadley.
Those who are exempt into the 100th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship include the top ten (10) finishers and ties from the Pre-Junior division, and the top twenty (20) finishers and ties from the Junior division.
Additional exemption categories for 2018 – as of 8/2/17 – include the following: