Travelers notes: Amateur Michael Thorbjornsen calmly approaching Sunday from a spot on the leaderboard

Joe Arruda, Hartford Courant on

Published in Golf

CROMWELL, Conn. — For 20-year-old amateur Michael Thorbjornsen, the thought of being in contention on Sunday at the Travelers Championship doesn’t bring along as much pressure as one might think.

“I’m not getting paid either way, so it’s just another tournament for me,” he said. “It’s just one more round of golf, just trying to do the same thing I did [Saturday]. Focus on my swing, making sure I get to certain positions and not having any regrets [Sunday].”

The only amateur to make the cut, Thorbjornsen climbed into a four-way tie for seventh place at 11-under par after the third round Saturday. A rising junior at Stanford and a Wellesley, Mass., resident, Thorbjornsen won the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and finished 79th at the 2019 U.S. Open.

He missed the cut in last week’s U.S. Open in front of a home crowd and had galleries following him around TPC River Highlands on Saturday.

“At a certain point I’m just like in a groove of things,” he said. “Like I’m just hanging out with my caddie out there, who is a really good friend and, yeah, kind of just block out the crowds a little bit.”

The 2021 Massachusetts Amateur champion got into that groove early with a 32 on the front nine and countered two bogeys with three birdies on the back.

“I feel good with my game,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been playing well, have definitely had some mental errors out there. Hopefully try and not have those [Sunday]. But just try and keep doing what I’m doing.”

Entering Sunday, Thorbjornsen has the attention — and respect — of several top contenders, including world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

“Any time you see a kid who is 20 years old up on the leaderboard, you know he’s got a lot of talent and also no fear. That’s big,” Scheffler said.


Who’s in contention?

The largest come-from-behind win at Travelers came when Brad Faxon emerged from down seven strokes in 2005. There are currently 14 players within that margin as Xander Schauffele enters Sunday holding the lead at 17 under. Patrick Cantlay (16 under) shot 7-under par 63 on Saturday to get within one stroke.

Sahith Theegala shot a 6-under 64 in the third round, highlighted by an eagle on 13, to get within three strokes of the lead at 14 under. Kevin Kisner (13 under) sits in fourth with Martin Laird and K.H. Lee each tied in fifth at 12 under.

Thorbjornsen, Webb Simpson, J.T. Poston and Nick Hardy are all six strokes behind. Scheffler, Harris English, Matthew NeSmith and Lee Hodges are knotted up seven strokes back.

Rory’s blunders

After registering a quadruple-bogey eight and a double-bogey six on the back nine Friday, Rory McIlroy began his third round with another double-bogey six on hole 2. Through 29 holes McIlroy was 13-under and leading. Through his last 25 holes McIlroy is 9 over, leaving him 11 strokes away from the lead at 6-under overall. ... Morgan Hoffman announced in December 2017 that he was diagnosed with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. A five-year journey included three years off from golf while undergoing treatment, though nothing can be done to rid the genetic progressive muscle degeneration disorder.

Hoffmann returned to golf at the RBC Heritage Classic in April and is competing at Travelers in the final start of his medical exemption. Hoffmann made the weekend after shooting 2-under through the first two rounds, sneaking right in at the cut. He shot 3-over par 73 in the third round, essentially taking him out of contention.

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