CROMWELL Conn. — At last week's U.S. Open, Michael Thorbjornsen, playing just miles from his hometown at The Country Club, wanted to be the next Francis Ouimet.
He nearly was, just a week later than anticipated.
The 20-year-old Stanford junior, making his third career Tour start roughly an hour and a half from his hometown, played his way into contention and nearly won on Sunday at the Travelers Championship. He was the only amateur to make the cut, and 36 holes later, after back-to-back 4-under 66s, thousands of fans at TPC River Highlands were chanting his name as he walked off the 18th green after finishing solo fourth, four shots behind champion Xander Schauffele.
"It was incredible," Thorbjornsen said after the final round. "It was surreal. I can't even — like it's better than like how I dreamt about it. It's so loud. It was very welcoming. I can't wait to come back next year and the following years."
Thorbjornsen didn't become the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1992, but at one point it looked like he might pull off the miracle.
Thorbjornsen, who was T-7 after 54 holes, birdied the par-3 11th Sunday and was one back of the lead. However, he carded two straight bogeys to end his threat, and he then parred the remaining holes to post the best finish by an amateur at this tournament since 1966.
"(Today's result) gives me some confidence," he said. "I think the thing is that I played well, I felt like I played well, but I didn't feel like I played like incredible out there. Definitely left a couple shots out there, had some miscues, mental errors throughout the week. But it feels good."
It will be a quick turnaround for Thorbjornsen, who still plans on going back to Stanford for his junior year. He'll celebrate by catching a flight across the Atlantic for an Open Championship qualifier on Tuesday. He will also play the Arnold Palmer Cup in Switzerland while he is overseas.