DUBLIN, Ohio – It’s not usually worth a mention when a player shoots 75-78, 9-over, and misses the cut by seven shots.
That was the scoring line for 2021 US Amateur champion James Piot at the Memorial Tournament, who crossed over the line and moved from the amateur ranks to professional golf last week during the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial.
From Fort Worth to Dublin to London to Boston, that is the schedule for the 23-year-old Piot who has made the unusual decision to play golf on the upstart LIV Golf next week at the Centurion Club outside London.
“It was a work in process for a few weeks, multiple calls with them, and just going over the details, because everyone had their speculations about the tour, for me the offer was, you’re going to play golf, and you’ re going to have status,” Piot said Friday as the sun was setting in Dublin.
“So, for me, I thought it was fantastic. Obviously, you’re playing with elite players and a team setting too. So not only are you going to be able to just be with them, but you can ask them, pick their brains and some time for me to just play some good golf and develop. So, I’m excited.”
Piot confirmed he received some financial remuneration for playing in the inaugural event and his expenses are also paid for, leaving the former Michigan State University golfer with little to worry about, a benefit that when just starting out with few if no sponsors, makes life much easier.
And then, of course, he is now off to London for the first time.
“As a 23-year-old coming out, obviously, we’d love to play good golf, but at the same time, to be financially stable is awesome thing,” Piot said. “It takes a lot of stress off your shoulders. Coming out of college, one of the things you don’t know where you’re going, what next week is when you’re living on sponsors, exemptions, so it’s, it’s definitely been a lot going on here for me.”
For Piot, the goal is and continues to be having playing opportunities and in his mind LIV Golf provides those opportunities to learn and get better. His agent said since Piot is not a PGA Tour member, he wo n’t face any repercussions for playing in LIV Golf events.
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Yet, the process from winning the US Amateur at Oakmont Country Club last August, returning to school, getting pulled and tugged in different directions has made the last six to seven months stressful, as Piot found himself playing PGA Tour events while still in college and feeling like he was thrown into the fire immediately.
“I feel like I’ve always been on the edge of greatness,” Piot said. “So, the last six, seven months has just been gearing up trying to get ready and obviously not having the success you want out of the gates, but just approaching with a positive mentality, we’re going to learn, we’re going to get better. So, for me, part of decision is, like I said, just developing, playing with great players and you learn, PGA Tour, LIV Tour, wherever you’re at year-round golf greats. And that’s what I want to do for a living. And we’ll see where it takes me.”
Piot has learned after two weeks of missed cuts in Fort Worth and Dublin that his game is not near ready for next week in London, so his plan was to get on the phone with his swing coach Brian Cairns and get together either in East Lansing, Dublin or somewhere in between to try to figure out why he is not hitting fairways and why he has struggled to make a cut.
In his five career appearances on the PGA Tour this year, Piot has missed all five cuts and has never shot under par, with one round at even par, his opening round at the RBC Heritage.
This week’s missed cut may have some justification in the week he had to deal with that included the world knowing he was playing in the first LIV golf event, playing Muirfield Village, having to deal with the media and what was said on social media.
“The things people are tweeting, people you don’t even know, making judgments,” Piot said of the struggles of social media. “I tell people it’s about playing golf and it’s what I want to do with my life.”
Oddly enough, Piot has found some solace in his fellow professionals.
And while he thought he would get some backlash, he has found that they, in turn, pumped him up and said it’s an awesome opportunity and we’re excited to see where this thing goes.
“Seeing some of these guys who are out here grinding week on week and they’re like, ‘Hey, I got an opportunity to see my kids if I play the schedule,’” Piot said he heard from some of the pros he talked with.
“But everyone has their own opinions and own decision. So, I can’t speak on behalf of them. But I’m sure they’re curious to see where this thing goes, as well.”