Michael Thorbjornsen Captures 113th Mass Amateur Title With Historic Performance - MASSGOLF

Michael Thorbjornsen sets Scorching Pace, Defeats Matt Parziale With 18 birdies In 30 Holes Of Final match

For Immediate Release: July 17, 2021

WEST NEWTON, Massachusetts – There aren’t many amateur golfers that can play the way Michael Thorbjornsen (Wellesley Country Club) can. As a result, the roughly 200 patrons in the gallery Saturday at Brae Burn Country Club got a glimpse at a young man who oozes professional potential.

The 36-hole final match at the 113th Massachusetts Amateur Championship on Saturday at Brae Burn Country Club featured plenty of firepower as it was the first time two former USGA champions were paired in a state amateur final. But on Saturday, Thorbjornsen shined the brightest as the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion executed one of the most spectacular performances in the history of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship by capturing the title with an 8&6 victory over 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale.

Thorbjornsen, a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford University became the first teenager to win the Mass Amateur since Jim Salinetti won the 1997 title, also at the age of 19.

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“Just winning the amateur championship of Massachusetts from where I’m from, it means a lot,” said Thorbjornsen, who competed in the Mass Amateur for the first time.

“He’s a world-beater,” Parziale said of Thorbjornsen. “He’s incredible. I met him a few years ago. He’s a great kid, he’s got all the talent in the world. I’m rooting for him, and it’s his to take. He has a bright future if he keeps going in this space.”

WATCH: CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT HAPPENED

Michael Thorbjornsen started the week with an unremarkable 1-over 73 in the first round. But after that first look at Brae Burn, he clearly established himself as the frontrunner. He hit it farther off the tee than just about everybody and either drove the green on most of the short par-4s (holes 1, 9 and 15 are 335 or less) or set himself up with short chips for approach shots.

“I feel like with the distance that I have, I kind of overpowered it a bit,” Thorbjornsen said. “I understand, that there are a lot of birdies out there, so just staying patient and then knowing that every par-5 is reachable, it’s just a long par-4, and that there are three par-4s that are drivable, just makes me feel comfortable.”

Michael Thorbjornsen focuses after one of his shots during the 36-hole final match. (Allyson Mollung/Mass Golf)

Though he was facing an opponent from Brockton, a city known for its fighting champions, Thorbjornsen landed some heavy punches early on. He made birdie on his first five holes and had another stretch of five straight birdies from holes 12-16, opening up a 6-up lead through the first 18 holes.

“Those first five just came up on me pretty quickly,” Thorbjornsen said. “Just driving the green, two-putting, and then having some tap-ins the next couple of holes just feels really good. And then birdieing the first five, it’s just kind of tough to compete against whoever you’re playing, so I feel like that’s what really set me up well later on.”

The pair also set a torrid pace, only needing 3.5 hours to play the first 18, and capping off their final 12 holes in exactly two hours.

“Today, I just felt very comfortable, probably the most comfortable I felt all week,” Thorbjornsen said. “I tied the course record (64) on the second day of the tournament, and it felt like I left a couple of shots out there. Today, I probably hit the ball about the same. I made a couple more putts and made a lot of birdies, which is very important in match play, especially playing against a guy like Matt.”

Errors were few and far between for Thorbjornsen. Other than a misfire off the tee on his second crack at hole 9 that landed him in the fescue, Thorbjornsen was within 10-feet of the hole on his approaches more often than not.

In almost any other year, Parziale’s performance would have left him in contention, but there was only so much the 2017 champion could do to keep pace. Despite shooting 5-under-par on the first 18, he still found himself down by six. Of the four holes he did win in the match, all of them were birdies or better.

“I was happy with how I played,” said Parziale, whose father Vic caddied the entire week. “So, if I played poorly then I’d probably feel differently, but I was happy with the way I played. Today is the day where one person is most happy and one person is the most upset. That’s the nature of this tournament. It was great to get here, but you lose, so you’re not happy. At least I played well and he just played incredibly, so congratulations to him.”

Parziale got it back within five by driving the green on the 15th. He did the same Friday with a 3-wood but decided to use driver and made the putt for his lone eagle.

“They had the tee back again, so I was fortunate enough to hit a good one there and then I had a good line on that and hit a solid putt there,” Parziale.

At the end of the day though, there wasn’t much Parziale could do other than tip his cap.

Matt Parziale did his best to keep up with Michael Thorbjornsen, shooting a 67 in the morning round. (Allyson Mollung/Mass Golf)

MEET THE FINALISTS

MICHAEL THORBJORNSEN

Instagram: @michaelt_1

  • First Mass Amateur champion 19 or younger since Jim Salinetti in 1997
  • Ranked 85th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings
  • Competing in his first-ever Mass Amateur this year
  • Tied competitive course record at Brae Burn (64) during the second round of stroke play
  • Won the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club (NJ)
  • Rising sophomore for the Stanford University men’s golf team
  • Placed 79th in 2019 U.S. Open
  • Was a member of two U.S. National Teams: Junior Ryder Cup (2018 winners); Junior Presidents Cup (2019 winners)
  • Was a member of the All-Pac-12 Newcomer Team

 

ROAD TO THE FINAL
Stroke Play: 73-64–137 (2nd place/No. 2 seed)
R32: Def. Alex Snickenberger, 4&2
R16: Def. Dan Howard, 5&3
Quarterfinals: Def. Michael Amari, 3&2
Semifinals: Def. Chris Francoeur, 3&2

Michael Thorbjornsen, right, celebrates with his girlfriend Cari Miwa, who was his caddy for the entire week. (Allyson Mollung/Mass Golf)

 


MATT PARZIALE
Instagram: @mattparziale

  • Winner of 2017 Mass Amateur, defeating Matt Cowgill, 5&4
  • Winner of 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur, defeating Josh Nichols 8 & 6
  • Has 28-10 career record in Mass Amateur match play
  • Competed in the 2018 Masters where he shot 81-79 (+16)
  • Tied for low-amateur honors at the 2018 U.S. Open after shooting rounds of 74-73-74-75 — 296 (16-over); Also played in 2019 U.S. Open (74-77–151) (+9)
  • Other wins: 2008 & 2015 Worcester County Amateur; 2009, 2013, and 2017 Ouimet Memorial Tournament; 2015 & 2016 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship; 2015 Norfolk County Classic

 

ROAD TO THE FINAL
Stroke Play: 71-71–142 (T8/No. 8 seed)
R32: Def. Kevin Gately, 3&2
R16: Def. Frank Vana, 5&4
Quarterfinals: Def. Ben Spitz, 2&1
Semifinals: Def. Chris Bornhorst, 4&3


NOTABLE

  • Michael Thorbjornsen’s five-hole stretch was similar to James Driscoll’s stretch of five consecutive 3s during his semifinal of the 1998 Mass Amateur at Belmont Country. Driscoll (then age 20) opened with 3-3-3-3-3 over the first 5 holes, believed to be the first time that has been done at Belmont. He defeated Kevin Quinn, 5 & 3, and then defeated Joe Keller in the final 1-up.
  • Thorbjornsen’s score through the first 18 shows 62, but it’s not considered a competitive course record because of the match play format.
  • Thorbjornsen will play in the Western Amateur next week. He will also compete in the U.S. Amateur, where he made it to the quarterfinals last year.
  • Matt Parziale is now 1-2 in Mass Amateur final matches. He lost in 2008 to John Hadges and defeat Matthew Cowgill in 2017.
  • Both Thorbjornsen and Parziale only played the 18th hole three times, twice during stroke play and once in their 36-hole final match.
  • Matt Parziale is now 1-2 in Mass Amateur final matches. He lost in 2008 to John Hadges and defeat Matthew Cowgill in 2017.

QUOTABLE

“I think it’s very important. It doesn’t really matter who you play in match play, just knowing that you have that cushion going into however many holes you have left, it really frees you up and just gives you a lot of confidence.” — Michael Thorbjornsen on grabbing an early lead against Matt Parziale.

“Every year I try and qualify for the U.S. Open. This past qualifying stage a month or two ago, I tried to qualify, but I had to withdraw because I was very sick, and standing over the ball, I was missing 3-footers because everything was blurry, and I was very dizzy. But other than that, I’m not really trying to qualify for any Korn Ferry events or PGA tour events. I’ve just played the US Open.” — Michael Thorbjornsen on his future aspirations

“I definitely heard him out there. I met him after the first 18. There was a funny moment on hole five the second time we went out. I was going for the green in two, and I pulled my 2-iron, it hits the tree and drops straight down. You can hear the crowd go like ‘ohh’ and they were a little shocked that it happened, but he screams out “good shot” and you got to thank him on that when that happens.” — Michael Thorbjornsen on a young fan in the gallery cheering him on throughout the round.

“I don’t worry about what my opponent is doing. He hit great shots and he made a lot of putts. I was doing my thing. I was happy with what I did, but I wish I could have done a little more. I only made one mistake for the whole day that I was mad at myself about. On six, the par-5, I just tried to jam it and I hit it 4-feet by and then misread it. Other than that I was pretty happy with all the execution I had,” Matt Parziale on facing Michael Thorbjornsen


LIVE STREAM

Check out the replay of the final match of the 113th Massachusetts Amateur Championship. Kudos to Stephen Hanjack, Mass Golf’s Assistant Director of Strategic Communications, for the play-by-play of each hole.

FIRST ROUND

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SECOND ROUND

 

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THE SOCIAL SCENE