Daniel Miernicki with caddie Ben Itterman, left, and father Paul, the Director of Instruction at Twin Oaks.
Daniel Miernicki has played hundreds of rounds at Torrey Pines but never one like Thursday.
Under the spotlight of the PGA Tour and amidst course conditions akin to a U.S. Open, Miernicki made his Farmers Insurance Open debut. He had his moments but the South Course had a few more as it took four strokes from him after he shot even par through 11 holes. He finished with a four-over-par 76 heading into his second round on Friday on the easier North Course.
Miernicki, an All-American at the University of Oregon, Monday qualified with a 65 at El Camino Country Club and carried that momentum to the first hole Thursday. He blasted his opening drive 40 yards past his playing partners and then hit his approach into the green slope and watched it settle five feet below the hole. He converted for birdie for a stellar start to his round.
He gave that shot back when he missed the green right on the par 3 3rd and couldn’t get up and down. A birdie on the par 3 8th would be his only other birdie of the day.
Miernicki made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, the toughest stretch of the course, to let shooting par slip away. He then had consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16. The rough in particular was thick and unforgiving as part of a course set up similar to last year, which many dubbed the toughest Farmers course ever.
Miernicki said the course conditions wore him down a bit.
“The course is really hard, and I struggled a little at the end. Maybe I got a little tired because it’s been such a long week. But it was fun,” he said.
“It was a good start, and I didn’t play that poorly. It was just a tough day. And it’s unlike playing any other event with all the people out.”
Miernicki had only one practice round prior to the tourney. That showed particularly, he said, on the greens.
“I struggled with the green speeds for sure,” he said, “and that’s something that’s just tough to prepare for.”
But Miernicki felt confident that going four- or five-under on the North on Friday would have him in contention to make the cut for the weekend.
“I feel good that I’ll have a chance to make up some strokes,” he said. “The North sets up better for me off the tee.”
Miernicki’s gallery included his father, Paul, the Director of Instruction at Twin Oaks. He called the day and week, overall, “as good as it gets.”
“I thought he was fabulous,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”