Mike Miller is a Brewster native who is playing in his first U.S. Open this week at Oakmont Country Club. He is keeping a diary for lohud.com. The 24-year-old spent last week at Knollwood Country Club preparing, and left Saturday for Pittsburgh. Miller has a growing entourage in tow, which so far includes his girlfriend, Casey Donnelly, his father, Knollwood head pro Bobby Miller Jr., and his caddie, fellow Mackenzie Tour player Brian Hughes.
It was an early day. The alarm went off at 5:45. I was playing this morning with Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Shane Lowry. We had an 8:20 a.m. tee time off the back nine, so we headed to the course and pulled in about 7.
My dad came in last night so we went to registration and got him his coach’s badge.
I walked into player dining to get some fruit and the only other person in there was Jason Day. I quickly turned around. Jason was doing his thing and I was like, ‘I don’t need to be here. I can go out and come back later.’ It was so funny when I came out. I said, ‘Can you believe I just saw Jason Day?’ Casey and Brian and my dad, they were looking at me like, ‘You’re supposed to. It’s the U.S. Open’ It was so cool.
From there I went to the putting green and got comfortable on the greens this morning and went straight to the tee. I got there first, which is not something I typically do, but I didn’t want to be late. And before you knew it there was an entourage of people with players and coaches and caddies.
People look at you here like you’re a big deal.
I couldn’t believe the crowd size at 8:20 in the morning and it was cool playing in front of that many people that early in the morning. We played nine holes and it was fun, which is not a word I typically use to describe a golf course, but it’s a fun, challenging difficult golf course. If you hit a good shot, you are rewarded and if you are just off the slightest bit, you are going to have a difficult up and down or you might even struggle to make bogey at times.
On my best ball, I went around and shot 1-under on the back nine, a few birdies and a bogey. I thought, ‘Wow, if I can do that for four days, you never know.’ But it’s only Monday and the course was a little softer than Sunday. The greens weren’t quite as fast and the wind wasn’t as bad. It’s only going to get harder through the week.
The cut the rough today. It was absolutely brutal yesterday. And they dumped a bunch of sand in the bunkers, so unless you trickle in, you’re going to plug. It’s a true test of how mentally prepared you are for it to be an absolute grind.
With the wind on Sunday, there were times where the ball almost wouldn’t remain still. Today they were rolling 14. I don’t want to say they were at 15 on Sunday, but they were almost unputtable. They slowed them down a little bit, and they’re only going to get faster and firmer during the week.
I’m being treated here like gold.
There was a little kid, Nicholas, who came up to me on the putting green like, ‘Can I have your autograph?’ And he’s looking at me like I’m the coolest thing. I’m asking what his name is and whether he’s enjoying the day, and he’s just looking at me. No words are coming out of his mouth. I thought it was the most humbling thing. I don’t think I’m that cool, but these young kids, just because I’m inside the ropes, they’re staring at me like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a professional golfer.’ It’s just unbelievably flattering.
I picked up the courtesy car on Saturday, and they couldn’t have been more excited to give me the keys. When you’re driving from the hotel to the course, there’s a big sticker that says 2016 U.S. Open, Oakmont, so people know it’s a player and that’s really cool.
The rest of the week, I’ll play nine holes each day and practice. Tomorrow, I’m going at 8:24 a.m. with Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley, who asked me after today if I would join them again. Instead of, ‘Nice to meet you. Good luck.’ He was, ‘We enjoyed playing with you, we have an opening tomorrow, can you join us again?’ I thought it was so nice of them to allow me to tag along.
Keegan today was like, ‘Hey, Mike, come with me. Let’s go sign some autographs.’ He kind of took me under his wing and showed me some things about handling myself and preparing. The biggest thing he told me was to not wear myself out because it’s so easy to do at your first major. It’s so exciting and there are so many people. You could easily wear yourself out playing golf all day long, and that’s something I need to learn, how to get away from the course. It’s typically not something I do. I like to hang out, but I’m doing my work and then I leave even though I really don’t want to because it is the U.S. Open.
Each post from Miller will also include a throwback photo of the former two-time MGA Player of the Year.