Facing the toughest test in golf didn't seem to faze Liberty's Mickey DeMorat on Thursday, as the former Flames' men's golfer is tied for 13th place following the opening round of the 118th U.S. Open.
DeMorat, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Thursday, carded a 2-over par 72 on the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course (par 70, 7,440 yards) to open play at the national championship event.
DeMorat was one of six players in the 156-man field to card a 2-over par 72 with the group of half-dozen players currently three strokes off the overall lead.
Four players finished the opening round of the second major of the season in red figures and share the overnight lead. The quartet includes current world No. 1 ranked golfer Dustin Johnson, who is seeking his second career U.S. Open title, along with Scott Pierce, Ian Poulter and Russell Henley.
DeMorat, who is making his professional debut during this event, handled the challenges of the historic Shinnecock Hills Golf Course better than eight of the top 10 golfers in the current world golf rankings.
Besides Johnson and No. 3 Justin Rose (+1/T6), DeMorat is currently ahead of No. 2 Justin Thomas (+4/T37), No. 4 Jordan Spieth (+8/T101), No. 5 Jon Rahm (+8/T101), No. 6 Rory McIlroy (+10/T128), No. 7 Rickie Fowler (+3/T19), No. 8 Jason Day (+9/T114), No. 9 Brooks Koepka (+5/T46) and No. 10 Hideki Matsuyama (+5/T46).
DeMorat's stellar opening round included four birdies. After opening with back-to-back bogeys on No. 2 (par 3, 252 yards) and No. 3 (par 4, 510 yards), the Merritt Island, Fla., native birdied his first hole of the championship on the par-4, No. 9 hole (487 yards) to get one shot back before making the turn.
DeMorat went bogey-birdie to open the back nine and dropped three more shots with a bogey at No. 13 (par 4, 374 yards) and a double bogey at No. 14 (par 4, 536 yards) following two errant drives on the No. 5 and No. 2 hardest holes on the course on Thursday.
DeMorat quickly rebounded with consecutive birdies on No. 15 (par 4, 404 yards) and No. 16 (par 5, 620 yards) to close out his first round as a professional golfer.
DeMorat found 11-of-14 fairways and ranked tied for 28th in the field in fairways hit in regulation. DeMorat hit 12-of-18 greens in regulation during his first round, ranking tied for fourth in the field.
DeMorat finished off his senior year, last month, posting a 72.00 season stroke average, while recording four top-10 finishes and a team best three top-five finishes. The senior finished his Liberty career with a 72.28 stroke average, the second-best mark in program history.
DeMorat played 17 of his 39 rounds at par or better during the season (43.6 percent). He posted under-par tournament totals five times, including a 7-under par 209 for a runner-up finish at the Big South Men's Golf Championship and a 4-under par 209 for a 17th-place showing at the NCAA Raleigh Regional.
DeMorat earned All-Big South first-team honors as a senior and was named to the Big South All-Championship team following his runner-up finish. Additionally, he was recently named to the PING All-Region team.
DeMorat, along with playing partners Tyler Strafaci (a) and Calum Hill, will be the last group sent off the No. 10 tee (par 4, 418 yards) tomorrow at 2:42 p.m.
DeMorat and the rest of the 156-man field will seek to finish tomorrow's second round inside the U.S. Open cut line, which is the top 60 golfers, plus ties.
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