Three down with nine to play?
No problem for Michigan State sensation James Piot, who carries a whole lot of heart and grit — to go with his 14 clubs — in his golf bag. Consider this: He had to chip in twice over his final six holes in the qualifier in Grand Rapids last month just to make it into this week’s U.S. Amateur, where he quickly found himself a runway outside the cut line for match play after the opening round of stroke play.
Today, he’s a U.S. Amateur champion, the first ever born in the state of Michigan, and just the second from a Michigan college — for a tournament that first was played in 1895.
“It’s kind of where he likes to be now,” said his head coach at Michigan State, Casey Lubahn, sitting in his car outside Oakmont Country Club on Sunday night, an hour after Piot hoisted the trophy. “He just kind of gets comfortable being there. He’s like (Izzo) a little bit … he likes being the underdog.
“Izzo actually told me a little while ago, ‘It’s a golf school, now.’ I’m going with that.”
Piot, the Canton native and Michigan State senior, rallied from three holes down through 27, and made a clutch 15-footer for par on the 35th hole of the day to beat North Carolina’s Austin Greaser, 2 and 1, in Sunday’s 36-hole final at Oakmont.