CROMWELL, Conn. — Michael Thorbjornsen didn’t feel any different when he stepped to the first tee for the 2024 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on Thursday.

Thorbjornsen, a graduate of Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Mass., competed in the event twice before and referred to it as his “home” on the PGA Tour.

But it was different.

Thorbjornsen, competing on a sponsor exemption in the PGA Tour’s Signature Event, was making his professional debut. So while Thorbjornsen himself might not have felt different, some of his biggest supporters did.

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“Pulling in today, I was less nervous, but it was a different feeling,” Ted Thorbjornsen told on the 18th green after his 22-year-old son concluded with a 2-over par 72.

His mother, Sandra Thorbjornsen, said there’s a sense of relief now that he’s officially a professional.

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“This was his dream, and to see it realized is unbelievable,” Sandra told, a white golf tee helping hold her hair as she got ready to walk the back nine. “There’s a sense of relief because it’s been a lot of grind for him.”

It wasn’t a memorable debut in the sense Thorbjornsen set the course on fire. It was hot enough, after all. Instead, it was a reminder as to the nature of the game Thorbjornsen has played his entire life: It’s no different now.

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“All in all, it was fine,” Thorbjornsen told after his round. “I feel good about my game. Everything feels good, my body feels good. You’re going to have one of those days where you feel like you played pretty good, but the score doesn’t always show that.”

Here’s everything observed after following Thorbjornsen for 18 holes:

— Thorbjornsen wore a white Adidas shirt, navy pants and a white Taylor Made hat. He wore the same white Adidas shoes as his playing partner, Ludvig Aberg, the fourth-ranked player in the world. Thorbjornsen’s navy and white Taylor Made golf bag featured a red Stanford logo along with a lime green Urban Golf Performance logo. Thorbjornsen graduated from Stanford, where he was a Pac-12 Player of the Year and two-time All American, and started working with Urban Golf Performance in November 2023 after he was bedridden due to a stress fracture in his back and simultaneous recovery from ankle surgery.

— Rian Chab, a coach at Urban Golf Performance, was among the dozen family and friends who followed Thorbjornsen. Chab believes Thorbjornsen is in better shape now than he was prior to the injury.

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“Being around Michael, he’s always been a pro,” Chab said. “That little chip doesn’t mean anything. … He’s not a rookie, not in his mindset at least.”

— Thorbjornsen, who finished No. 1 in PGA Tour University and earned his Tour card through the conclusion of the 2025 season, has been lauded for his driving prowess. He consistently put himself in position to score Thursday because of how he played off the tee. Aberg was almost always away when they stepped to their approach shots, sometimes by a wide margin.

“Look at Mike dead center,” a friend of Thorbjornsen said on the 1st hole.

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However, perhaps no tee shot was more impressive than his drive on the 444-yard par-4 18th. Thorbjornsen was 85 yards from the pin on his second shot, meaning his drive went approximately 360 yards (!).

— Unfortunately, Thorbjornsen wasn’t able to capitalize on his ball striking when he reached the greens. He missed a 5-footer for birdie on the par-5 13th hole and a 9-foot par putt on the par-4 14th. There also was a 10-footer for birdie on the par-3 11th and a handful of others within 14 feet.

“Every single time I had a good look at it, even short ones — I missed a couple three- and four-footers there,” Thorbjornsen said. “You just can’t be doing that. Make a couple of those and we’re under par. But, again, I’m hitting the ball well and setting myself nicely so that’s all I can ask for.”

— Thorbjornsen finished with two birdies and four bogeys, three of which came on his final five holes.

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— “Go in! Go in!” one of Thorbjornsen’s friends shouted after his chip on the par-4 2nd hole came within 18 inches. Thorbjornsen tapped that in for birdie. The other came on the par-4 15th when he converted an 18-footer, his nicest putt of the day.

— Thorbjornsen’s worst miss came on the par-5 6th hole as his tee shot went into the tall grass on the right side. Not able to get underneath it, Thorbjornsen sent his next shot 17 feet and remained in the tall grass.

His father walked away from the gallery and stood by himself about 25 yards behind the ball. It was a reaction all parents and golfers surely would find relatable. Thorbjornsen, after conversing with his caddie, Drew Cohen, about a potential drop, pitched out and carded a bogey. It felt like a win at the time.

“We’re back!” a friend said.

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Another added: “Staying alive!”

— Cohen grew up with Thorbjornsen and has caddied for him over the years including at the 2022 U.S. Open. Cohen was the captain of the Wellesley High golf team when Thorbjornsen transferred from IMG Academy his senior year. Cohen previously attended IMG Academy with Thorbjornsen but transferred back to Wellesley in large part because he missed hockey. Cohen went to Wisconsin when Thorbjornsen attended Stanford.

When he was 13 years old, Cohen told his father, Ross Cohen, that Thorbjornsen was going to be the best player in the world. It took Ross one round at TPC Boston to his son wasn’t lying.

“He’s a prodigy,” Ross said of Thorbjornsen.

— Thorbjornsen was focused throughout the round, but there were fist bumps for friends and younger kids. Thorbjornsen also raised his water bottle — one of the handful he cracked — as if to cheers fans who yelled from their back deck along the 9th hole.

“Thanks for coming!” they cheered while under a navy umbrella, not to be confused with the trademark red of the Travelers Championship.

— Ted, who almost always appeared to be one shot ahead, took a photo of the scoreboard as soon as his son’s headshot appeared on the 18th hole. He then turned to take one of his son right before he hit his approach shot from 85 yards to 14 feet.

Thorbjornsen’s two-putt from there concluded a fine round, sure. But it nevertheless was a very special day in his career.

Featured image via Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports Images