BROOKLINE — Some say history repeats itself, and for Michael Thorbjornsen, that wouldn’t be too shabby.
Thorbjornsen and his caddie purchased matching T-shirts last Thursday from the newly constructed merchandise tent at The Country Club. The pale gray, $29 tees depicted a silhouette of 1913 US Open champion Francis Ouimet and his caddie Eddie Lowery.
“Definitely trying to channel that energy this week,” said Thorbjornsen, the 2021 Massachusetts Amateur and Western Amateur champion.
Side by side, the similarities between the young Stanford junior and “the father of amateur golf” are clear.
Thorbjornsen is 20 heading into the week. Ouimet was 20 when he captured the title.
Thorbjornsen’s home of Wellesley is a short 9 miles from The Country Club. Ouimet grew up just minutes from the course.
Ouimet became the first amateur to win a US Open title in 1913, and Thorbjornsen will look to add his name to the list this week.
“I think it’s really cool the position that I’m in and how it emulates Francis a little bit, but I mean, I’m a different person than him,” Thorbjornsen said. “I’m going to try to do the same thing that he did and just hope for the best.”
He is humble for a guy who’s mentioned in the same sentence as Ouimet, but his caddie and longtime friend Drew Cohen might have more to say.
“Michael has the game to make a run here,” said Cohen. “He’s very modest and humble but I’ll speak for him. He’s an unbelievable player, and hopefully we can make a push at this thing.”
Despite being a local kid who graduated from Wellesley High, Thorbjornsen said he has played The Country Club only one time, about six years ago.
Why did it take him so long? To that, Thorbjornsen laughs.
“Have you heard of The Country Club?” he said. “I mean, Tom Brady tried to become a member here. I think it took him a long time. I’m not even sure if he actually did become a member.
“But I would have loved to have played here as many times as I can, but here I am now able to play a couple of times before the tournament starts.”
Since he heard The Country Club was the site of this year’s tournament, Thorbjornsen had it circled on his schedule. He qualified June 6 after prevailing in a playoff at Century and Old Oaks Country Clubs in New York.
Thorbjornsen and his caddie got out for 18 holes Monday, surrounded by a hometown welcoming committee. Cohen said that likely will be the only round of 18 Thorbjornsen plays before the tournament, as he is dealing with left wrist pain.
“All of our buddies are out here,” said Cohen. “We have random people coming up to us, ‘Hey, we’re pulling for you this week,’ and that’s really fortunate for us to have the hometown behind us.”
Perhaps most special to Thorbjornsen was the presence of his father, whom he hasn’t seen since the 2019 US Amateur at Pinehurst.
“He is my coach. We do the best that we can being a couple thousand miles apart,” said Thorbjornsen, looking out to his father who stood behind the media. “It’s really good to have you out here, Dad. Thanks for coming.”
Cohen said he and Thorbjornsen are staying in a hotel to get into the “tournament mind-set” despite living close to the site. This will be Thorbjornsen’s second US Open appearance after placing 79th in the 2019 tournament at Pebble Beach.
“I guess I didn’t really know what was going on then,” reflected Thorbjornsen. “I’m looking back at it now thinking, ‘How did I get through that week?’ I’ve definitely learned a lot. My game has definitely gotten a lot better. I’m just excited to go out and play on Thursday.”
Thorbjornsen is listed at Thursday’s first tee time of 6:45 a.m. with Erik Barnes of Marion, Ind., and Matt McCarty of Scottsdale, Ariz.
“We’re looking at it in an optimistic way,” said Cohen. “The wind will probably be down, which is awesome. We’re just going to try to play steady golf; pars are a really good score out there.
“It’s Monday and the rough is thick out there, and as the week gets on, we assume they’re not going to cut the rough, so pars are a good score and I think that he can do it.”