Piot rallies on again 9 to win U.S. Novice

Golf

OAKMONT, Pa. — Even for James Piot, the scrappy Michigan child who is not afraid to set the bar excessive, his goal Sunday within the U.S. Novice was bordering on audacious.

He was 3 down and operating out of time.

Standing on the tenth tee, Piot set a objective of enjoying the again 9 at 4 underneath par. This was at Oakmont, as fearsome as any course in America, the place the greens reputed to be the quickest within the land had been triple lower. Extra holes had been gained with pars than birdies.

Piot was as much as the duty. Beginning with a 9-iron to three ft for birdie, he gained 4 straight holes to take the lead over Austin Greaser and closed out his beautiful rally with a 20-foot par putt that despatched him to a 2-and-1 victory.

“It is the best feeling on the earth,” Piot stated. “As an newbie, it is the perfect factor you are able to do.”

Piot did not win a gap on the entrance 9 within the afternoon. He did not lose a gap on the again 9, even when he fell simply wanting his objective. He was 3 underneath on the again.

The match ended on the reachable par-4 seventeenth when Piot blasted out of a bunker throughout the slick inexperienced and into one other bunker, bought that out to twenty ft and made it for par. Greaser’s 8-foot birdie putt to increase the match spun out of the left lip.

“I simply did not execute on the again 9,” Greaser stated. “He did. Hats off to him — he performed an excellent again 9. The playing cards fell his means this time. It’ll sting a bit bit.”

Piot, a 22-year-old senior at Michigan State, was mobbed by associates and teammates of their Spartans gear off the inexperienced and earlier than lengthy he was holding the gold Havemeyer Trophy.

He gave the impression to be gazing at a century-old listing of champions from Bobby Jones to Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. Seems that wasn’t the case in any respect.

“I used to be attempting to see if it was actual or not,” Piot stated. “I could not consider it. I actually was like, ‘Did I simply win the U.S. Am?’ I most likely could not inform you one title proper now on that factor. That is how loopy it was and the way unbelievable it felt.”

Groomed on a public course in Michigan referred to as Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Middle, he realized to battle by spending all day on the course with associates and making up cash video games to play, both for lunch or for one another’s golf balls.

When he arrived at Michigan State and his coach inspired Piot to try to be All-Massive Ten, Piot stated that was setting the bar too low. He wished to be All-American.

And now he is a U.S. Novice champion.

It was a tricky loss for Greaser, a junior at North Carolina. Trailing 1 down after the morning 18 holes, he gained three of the opening 4 holes within the afternoon, adopted by a pair of robust par putts to remain in entrance.

With a par to win the ninth, he went 3 up and seemed robust to beat.

Piot took it from there. His birdie on No. 10 was his first since he hit 6-iron to three ft on the 18th within the morning spherical to take a 1-up lead into lunch. After which he bought some assist from Greaser.

Each had 15-foot birdie putts on the eleventh. Greaser ran his 6 ft by and three-putted to lose one other gap. On the par-5 twelfth, Greaser hit 3-iron too far left right into a bunker some 20 yards wanting the inexperienced. He might solely get out to the entrance of the inexperienced, leaving him a 70-foot putt that did not cease rolling till it was 20 ft away.

He three-putted — his seventh of the championship match — and it was again to all sq..

“I simply felt like from there, all of the momentum was on my aspect,” Piot stated.

Piot gained his fourth straight gap and took the lead with a tee shot on the par-3 thirteenth to 10 ft for a conceded birdie when Greaser discovered a bunker and did not convert a 12-footer par putt.

The ultimate blow was on the fifteenth, the place Greaser hit into the “church pew” bunkers down the left aspect, needed to lay up and hit wedge that did not fairly clear a refined ridge, and the velocity and slope of Oakmont’s infamous greens despatched the ball 20 ft away for an additional bogey.

“It actually stinks to return up only a hair brief,” Greaser stated. “However there have been quite a lot of children that most likely wished they had been standing the place I used to be as we speak, and I’ll try to do not forget that and know that I performed my coronary heart out and gave my finest.”

The victory places Piot into the three skilled majors subsequent 12 months — the Masters, the U.S. Open at Brookline and the British Open at St. Andrews. Greaser will get into the Masters and the U.S. Open because the runner-up.

“I nonetheless do not consider I am holding this trophy proper now,” Piot stated. “Internally, I assumed I had the flexibility to do it. To really do it’s the best factor ever.”

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