CROMWELL, Conn. — Michael Thorbjornsen is teeing up his professional career on his home course.

“It means a lot,” said Thorbjornsen, a New England native who will make his professional debut at the 2024 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.

Thorbjornsen earned his PGA Tour card after he finished No. 1 in PGA Tour University. A graduate of Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Mass., Thorbjornsen will compete at the PGA Tour Signature Event on a sponsor exemption.

“Love this place,” Thorbjornsen said. “I couldn’t ask for a better start.”

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It will be his third start at the Travelers Championship. Thorbjornsen previously made his first-ever PGA Tour start in Cromwell, Conn., and finished fourth overall in 2022. Unfortunately for Thorbjornsen, he was not eligible to collect the prize money.

The 22-year-old Thorbjornsen will join defending champion Keegan Bradley as a second New England native in the star-studded field.

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Both will serve as regional inspiration to young golf fans who flock to New England’s lone PGA Tour stop. Thorbjornsen admitted he hadn’t thought about it like that, but knows it makes his professional debut all the more special.

“Come to think of it now, some kids growing up here in the northeast and the Massachusetts area, them looking up to me, that’s kind of a dream come true,” Thorbjornsen said. “Just trying to set a good example for these kids and inspire them to be the best golfers and best human beings they could possibly be, because that’s what the guys ahead of me did for me as well.

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“Hopefully one day in 10 years we’ll have some of these kids out here playing and beating me and winning this tournament.”

The 38-year old Bradley, who graduated from Hopkinton High in Hopkinton, Mass., has reached out to Thorbjornsen in recent years and kept tabs on his career. Bradley will always root on his fellow New Englander.

“Whenever I see Massachusetts on the hometown, I am hyper-focused on whatever they’re doing,” Bradley said. “So, I’m so proud of what he’s done.

“The rumors of what type of player he is are strong — that he’s very, very good. I love that. I can relate to what he’s gone through to get to this point –winters and stuff like that. So I’m always pulling for players from around here.”

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Thorbjornsen is a recent graduate of Stanford University. He won last year’s Pac-12 Golfer of the Year and was a first-team All American in his final two college seasons.

And while he might not have thought of himself as a role model to younger players just yet, Thorbjornsen offered advice to those in the region who want to have a career in golf.

“Just because you’re from the northeast and it snows for more than half of a year, that’s no excuse,” Thorbjornsen said with a smirk. “Just keep working hard, guys.”

Thorbjornsen will have a chance to prove himself to New Englanders this weekend. He’ll play alongside one of the top young players, World No. 4 Ludvig Aberg, during the first and second rounds.

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Featured image via Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports Images