The Next Ludvig Aberg? Second College Golfer Heading Straight For PGA Tour

Stanford student Michael Thorbjornsen completes four-year college career by topping PGA Tour University class of 2024 at NCAA Championship

Michael Thorbjornsen holds up his ceremonial PGA Tour and the PGA Tour U trophy while smiling
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Michael Thorbjornsen is following in the footsteps of rising star, Ludvig Aberg after finishing on top of the 2024 PGA Tour University ranking and heading straight to the PGA Tour.

The Stanford University student completed his four-year career in California at the NCAA Championship last week, and while the most recent result did not put icing on Thorbjornsen's cake as both he and Stanford missed Sunday's 54-hole cut, the 22-year-old was still able to celebrate once the final putt had dropped.

His record over the past two years featured three college victories and four made cuts in professional events - the highlight of which was a fourth-place finish at the 2022 Travelers Championship near his home town of Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Thorbjornsen may now choose to accept PGA Tour membership upon turning professional, and he will be eligible for all open, full-field PGA Tour events for the remainder of the 2024 season and the 2025 season.

Reacting to his achievement, Thorbjornsen said: “PGA Tour U is, I think, one of the best programs in all of sports. What they’ve done, creating a pathway to the PGA Tour and to these different tours underneath it, it’s huge.

"It gives students and us golfers reasons to stay for four years, and you can’t really pass up on the opportunities that they present to you.”

Thorbjornsen - who was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Danish father Thorbjorn and Zimbabwean mother, Sandra Chiang - is the second PGA Tour U champion to make the immediate graduation up to the big league after good friend, Aberg in 2023.

Last year, Aberg became the first player to earn PGA Tour membership as the number one college golfer, and in his first year as a professional, the Swede won the DP World Tour’s Omega European Masters, competed for the European Ryder Cup Team and won the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic.

Speaking about Aberg, Thorbjornsen paid tribute to his predecessor. He said: “Ludvig, even though he’s been on tour for say a year now, he’s top 10 in the world, he’s done unbelievable things recently.

“We’re good friends, we competed a lot last year, so he’s someone I look up to but I’m also trying to beat him as well.”

While the 2023-24 campaign ended in perfect fashion for Thorbjornsen, the American endured a painful start after missing the entire fall portion with a stress fracture in his back.

His return to the Cardinal line-up in February featured T71 and T17 finishes and ultimately saw Thorbjornsen lose his No.1 spot to Georgia Tech's Christo Lamprecht - the man who won the silver medal at the 2023 Open Championship and also went on to tee it up at the most recent Masters.

Christo Lamprecht with the silver medal at the 2023 Open

Christo Lamprecht with the silver medal at the 2023 Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

However, Thorbjornsen won the Cabo Collegiate to kick off a run of form that would ultimately secure his future at the top table. Prior to the NCAA Championship, in which he carded rounds of 74, 75, and 78 to miss the cut, the 22-year-old had managed five consecutive top-10s.

That streak, and the fact that Lamprecht had to be subbed out of Georgia Tech's squad due to his own back injury last week, ultimately crowned Thorbjornsen.

“Christo has been a huge part in my success this spring pushing me, even though we’re not together and I rarely see him,” said Thorbjornsen. “Finishing in that No. 1 spot is massive, so just doing everything you can every single day, making sure you’re getting one percent better every single day, is huge.”

The Rocket Mortgage Classic (June 27-30) is the first full-field event for which Thorbjornsen is eligible, while he plans to compete in U.S. Open Final Qualifying on June 3 at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey.

Additionally, as a PGA Tour member, Thorbjornsen will be eligible to receive sponsor exemptions into Signature Events such as the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday (June 6-9) and Travelers Championship (June 20-23).

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.