By MATT HARNESS
GLENVIEW, Ill. (July 28, 2021) – On the practice range before his Wednesday afternoon tee time, Michael Thorbjornsen, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, did something not often seen at golf courses.
Feeling a bit out of sorts, he dropped to the ground and did a few push-ups.
“I don’t know what it was, but I was not super ready to play,” Thorbjornsen said. “I wasn’t pumped up.”
That all changed when he teed it up for his second round at the 119th Western Amateur at Glen View Club. The 19-year-old Thorbjornsen, a sophomore at Stanford, made eight birdies, four on each nine, and no bogeys to shoot 62, a new course record.
The 8-under round vaulted him into a tie for the 36-hole lead with Stanford teammate Karl Vilips, of Perth, Australia, at 10 under. The field was cut to the low 44 players and ties on Wednesday, with 46 players finishing at 2 under or better to advance to the final 36 holes of stroke play Thursday.
“Everything worked well,” said Thorbjornsen, who won the 113th Mass Amateur Championship on July 17. “I didn’t miss many fairways with my driver and set myself up well for approach shots. I’ve been playing fine, and that continued [Wednesday]. Golf can be weird.”
Vilips, the first-round leader, carded his second consecutive 65 on Wednesday. He and Thorbjornsen will play together in the final group Thursday. The two have been close friends since meeting at a U.S. Kids Golf Championship years ago. Last year, Vilips caddied for Thorbjornsen on his run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Thorbjornsen, who has another close friend, Drew Cohen, on his bag this week. “Hopefully, I can keep the good vibes going.”
Tennessee junior Bryce Lewis, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, is in solo third at 8 under after shooting his second consecutive 66. Gordon Sargent, of Birmingham, Alabama, and Parker Coody, of Plano, Texas, are tied for fourth at 7 under.
In his Western Amateur debut, Sargent, a freshman at Vanderbilt, looked comfortable among the world’s top talent. He shot up the leaderboard Wednesday by posting a 65.
“This is one of the best fields in all of amateur golf,” said Sargent, who played in the 2018 Western Junior at Evanston Golf Club in Evanston, Illinois. “For one reason or another, it didn’t fit into my schedule, but I knew I would be here one day.”
A two-time defending Alabama State Amateur champion and 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur quarterfinalist, Sargent secured his spot for Thursday with three birdies in a row on his second nine.
“I’d like to be leading, but one step at a time,” he said. “You can’t win unless you make match play, and that’s what I am focused on.”
Four players are at 6 under, including 2020 champion and Texas senior Pierceson Coody, of Plano, Texas. The twin brother of Parker Coody and the No. 2-ranked amateur in the world, Pierceson Coody shot 67 for the second day in a row.
Maxwell Moldovan, of Uniontown, Ohio, got hot on his second nine Wednesday to survive the cut. The Ohio State sophomore opened with an even-par 70 and was 1 over through three holes of the second round. He turned his week around with a birdie on No. 17 — his eighth hole — and ripped off five more birdies to shoot 65.
“It was not a fun position to be in at the start of the day, and it can be tough on you,” Moldovan said. “But I executed a lot of shots. It will take off some of the pressure [Thursday].”
Central Florida senior Johnny Travale, of Ontario, Canada, played one of the best rounds Wednesday. He bounced back from a 72 with a bogey-free 63 and is tied for 10th.
The field will be trimmed to the top 16 for match play after Thursday.
First played at Glen View Club in 1899, the Western Amateur is the world’s third oldest amateur championship, behind the British Amateur (1855) and the U.S. Amateur (1895). It regularly attracts the top players from across the country and around the world, with past champions like Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
A combination of stroke play and match play competition make the Western Amateur one of the most demanding events in golf. The international field of 156 players will compete in 72 holes of stroke play over three days to determine the Sweet 16 for match play.
This year, the match play competition will be streamed live on Golf Channel’s digital platforms, with more than 12 hours of coverage on Friday, July 30, and Saturday, July 31. Powered by WGA proud partners BMW and Peter Millar, the stream will be available on GolfChannel.com and thewesternamateur.com, with replays on the Peacock streaming service and golfpass.com.
Attendance and parking at the Western Amateur are free.
For the full leaderboard, click here.
For Thursday tee times, click here.
- Three of the top 10 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings remained alive after the first 36 holes. Joining No. 2 Pierceson Coody are No. 5 Ricky Castillo, of Yorba Linda, California, and No. 6 Cole Hammer, of Houston, Texas. Hammer is the 2018 Western Amateur winner, while Castillo has advanced to the semifinals the last two years.
- Other notables who survived the cut are 2020 Western Amateur runner-up Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Walker Cup team member and former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, California.
- The first nine (34.95) played marginally easier than the second (35.66). Holes 1-9 yielded 526 birdies compared to 449 on Nos. 10-18. The 505-yard, par-4 15th — a converted par-5 — has played the most difficult, averaging 4.47 strokes. The second nine also hosted the easiest hole, the 550-yard, par-5 13th, which averaged 4.67 strokes. That hole has produced nine of the 19 eagles this week.
- Marco Steyn, of Cape Town, South Africa, led the field in eagles with two through 36 holes, but they weren’t enough to get him through to Thursday. He ended his tournament at 5 over.
- None of the seven Sunday qualifiers made the cut. Jason Li, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, had the best run, finishing at even par following rounds of 70-70.