(Image via USGA Twitter)
(Article via USGA)
As Michael Thorbjornsen’s semifinal match against Cameron Sisk wore on and continued into extra holes on Friday, a friendly face in his corner appeared in the gallery. It was Akshay Bhatia, who has known Thorbjornsen for years through the junior golf circuit and had come out to see if his close friend could pull through. He did, and it meant the two would be squaring off in Saturday’s 36-hole final on Baltusrol Golf Club’s Upper Course.
Fast forward to late Saturday afternoon. Thorbjornsen, who trailed Bhatia for most of their match before pulling ahead for the first and only time on the 32nd hole, struck a 42-foot birdie putt on the 36th hole to inside of 2 feet, and Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., conceded and congratulated his close friend on his 1-up victory in the 71st U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
Huge congratulations to my fellow Massachusetts native on achieving one of the most prestigious junior amateur awards in golf. The Northeast tends to get a little ragged on and forgotten about in the golf world due to us not being able to play year-round and having minimal tournaments up here (especially New England), but it is always great for local kids to break through and perform well.
So what’s up next for the 16-year-old? Because of his great performance, he has automatically qualified to play in the 2019 US Open. This is not just any other US Open either: it will be played at one of America’s most famous courses, Pebble Beach. This is a great opportunity for the kid to showcase his talent on the grandest stage in US golf. Let’s hope he can go out and play a great few rounds of golf and who knows, maybe even make the cut. Good luck to you Michael, and hopefully this is the start of a great golf career!