Former Eastern Florida State College golfer Michael 'Mickey' DeMorat celebrated his 23rd birthday Thursday by shooting a 2-over par 72 in the first round of the U.S. Open and is tied for 13th at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York.
"It was a cool birthday present just to be out there, honestly on Tuesday I got to play a practice round with Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed and that would have made my week right there, but it was cool just to play well today," DeMorat said while watching the afternoon groups on TV. "I wasn't sure how my game would compare to the best players in the world, but it gives me a lot of confidence to be in the top 15."
The former All-American at Eastern Florida State College and Liberty University graduate got off to a bit of a slow start in his first professional golf event with bogeys on No. 2 and No. 3 but finished the front nine with a birdie.
"It was tough, I knew starting out it would be windy even for the morning tee time. I just tried to make as many pars as I could," DeMorat said. "After starting out with a couple of bogeys I had a nice stretch of pars and made a good birdie on number nine which is a long par 4 - that kind of got the round going and settled me down."
After a bogey on No. 10, he birdied No. 11 and found himself on the Leaderboard during the morning session.
"It was cool just to see my name up there, I checked the Leaderboard at one point and saw I was 1-over and tied for third place. That was really cool and afterwards I got a lot of messages with the screenshots, so I will probably keep those," DeMorat said.
The Merritt Island native ran into a bit of trouble with a bogey on No. 13 and then a double bogey on No. 14 to go to 4-over.
"I made a mess of 14, so after that hole I decided to pull out my driver on number 15 which I usually don't do because it is a shorter hole and I got it down there where I could use a wedge and hit it close. I made a nice putt for a birdie and that kind of got me back into a rhythm," DeMorat said. "I birdied the next hole and finished with two nice pars."
DeMorat, whose father is his caddie this week, will enjoy a birthday dinner with his mother, sister and younger brother who all made the trip to watch his professional debut.
"It is awesome having dad on the bag this week, I think he is enjoying being out there," DeMorat said. "It is good to have him out here with me and I have a little gallery supporting me this week."
He will have a few more in the second round as some other family members are coming from New Jersey to watch him tee off at 2:42 p.m. on Friday. Television coverage will begin at 10 a.m. on FS1 and then on Fox starting at 4:30 p.m.