November 18, 2019

Boys golf starts off swinging, promising an exciting state championship

Becky Miller ’20, Print Editor-in-Chief

The boys’ golf team, including Thomas Picher ’20 (above), has started off this season with an impressive string of wins, which Andrew Pini ’20 attributes to many players putting in time during the off season. “With everyone playing as much golf as they possibly could over the summer, our whole team is doing better,” said Pini. Photo by Maura Guiffre.

There are trophy cases lining the hallways of the high school, filled with silver and gold championship trophies, plaques, and medals. The tennis, ice hockey, sailing and skiing teams have racked up numerous state championship awards. The case displays the girls golf 2017 state championship trophy proudly. The one team missing a memento, however, is boys golf. 

That may just change this fall. With a 14-1 record, big wins against BC High and Needham, and the addition of US Junior Amateur champion and US Open player Michael Thorbjornsen ’20, the team has a real shot at winning the Division I state championship this year. The team is heading to the state championship on October 28. Their sights are set high, and they have the talent to win.

“Last year, Coach Bateman told us that it was one of the better teams he’d ever had, but this year he consistently says that we’re by far the most talented team that he’s ever coached and by far the team with the most potential,” said Andrew Pini ’20, one of the top eight boys who plays in every match.

A lot of energy in the team comes from Thorbjornsen’s arrival. Having just moved back to Wellesley for his senior year from IMG Academy, he is an asset to the team with his relaxed, accurate swing and his veteran golfer status. The rest of the team appreciates that having a teammate who played on the same course as Tiger Woods, and finished 79th at the US Open in June, is a serious advantage when playing in the high school golf Bay State Conference.

“We try to be humble about it, but we all know how good we are this year. It’s really cool to be playing on a team that’s doing so well,” said Pini.

Thorbjornsen shares the rest of the team’s excited spirit. Although he isn’t competing with anyone who plays in the same high-level tournaments that he is used to, he says that out of the eight boys who golf every match, there isn’t a weak link.

Coach Ken Bateman, who is in his tenth season coaching high school golf, matches his team’s enthusiasm for this season. He attributes much of the team’s success so far to Thorbjornsen and Drew Cohen ’20, the top two golfers, who have proved calm and powerful athletes.

“Michael and Drew don’t get rattled at all. If they have a bad shot they don’t carry it with them. If they have a bad hole they recover easily,” said Bateman.

The team beat BC High by one point, making it the first time Wellesley ever beat BC High, in a high-intensity match on September 11. On October 16, they beat Needham by 5 points (101-96), aided by a 4 under par round by Thorbjornsen. With a talented lineup and soaring morale, the team attributes lively matches like those as what took them all the way to the state championship.

“The goal is to come up with the best record that we can. We want to see if we can pull out the win at states, and I think it’s definitely likely,” said Thorbjornsen.

Bateman also has high expectations for the state championship but hopes to keep his team humble and sportsmanlike in the process.

“The goal is to win a championship, but I can’t let the boys lose sight of the fact that it’s a game and they need to be respectful,” said Bateman. “It’s ok if we end up losing, but always be respectful. But of course, we want to win.”

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