Mickey DeMorat turned 23 years old Thursday.
He celebrated by playing in the first round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York.
DeMorat, son of former Millville High School baseball player Mike DeMorat, turned in an impressive performance. He shot a 2-over par 72 and is tied for 13th place, just three shots behind co-leaders Russell Henley, Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter.
“I’ve never played the course before this week, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Mickey DeMorat said Thursday night in a phone interview. “I just wasn’t sure how I’d stack up against the best players in the world.”
For the first round, he stacked up pretty well.
To put it in perspective, DeMorat finished ahead of 146 other players, including Phil Mickelson (77), Jordan Spieth (78) and Tiger Woods (78).
“I knew the course was going to be hard for everyone,” he said. “I thought if I could just play solid golf and keep the ball in play I could post a good score.”
That he is even in the tournament was considered a surprise.
Mickey DeMorat grew up in Merritt Island, Florida, and enjoyed a solid-yet-unspectacular college career at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
He earned a berth in the tournament through the U.S. Open’s qualifying process.
DeMorat carried his clubs on a push cart and played without a caddie in a sectional qualifier in Maryland. He won a three-way playoff to earn the fourth and final qualifying spot for the U.S. Open.
His father Mike, a 1987 Millville High School graduate, is serving as his caddie this week.
“Being out there with him was an awesome experience,” Mike said in a phone interview. “We really enjoyed ourselves. It was a great birthday present for him. I’m sure he’s going to want steak for his birthday dinner and then we’ll have some cake and try to do it again (Friday).”
The top 60 players plus ties after Friday’s second round will make the cut.
A number of family members and friends from Millville traveled to New York to watch Mickey try to keep his hot streak intact.
The DeMorat family is well known in Millville for their athletic exploits. Mike’s brothers Gene and Joe played football and soccer, respectively. Gene DeMorat went on to play for Princeton University while Joe played for Rutgers. Sister Noelle was a basketball standout for the Thunderbolts. Oldest sister Bernadine was a ballet dancer.
“We try to get to Millville as often as we can,” Mickey said. “It’s really cool to get back there and look through their old newspaper clippings and things.”
Now it’s Mickey’s turn to make headlines.
Note: Local golfer Alexander Hicks came up short in his bid to qualify for the U.S. Open, but bounced back with a strong performance in another tournament.
The Cape May Court House native finished tied for sixth in a tournament on the PGA McKenzie Tour in Canada last weekend.
Hicks, a 2011 Middle Township High School graduate, carded an 11-under-par 269 in the Bayview Place DCBank Open at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia.
Hicks, a three-time Press of Atlantic City high school player of the year, shot 65-69-68-67. He finished eight strokes behind winner Sam Fidone, of Lufton, Texas.
He is playing this week in the GolfBC Championship at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf and Country Club in Kelowna, B.C.