BROOKLINE, Mass. – When James Piot tees it up in this week’s U.S. Open, it will mark the sixth start in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event this season for the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The 23-year-old Michigan State grad, who turned professional last month, missed the cut in each of his first five events, including at the Masters.
He's not stressing, though.
“At the end of the day, you play good golf and the rest takes care of itself,” said Piot, who topped Austin Greaser last summer at Oakmont to earn his ticket to Brookline. “The Brysons and the Viktor Hovlands (past U.S. Amateur winners), they earned it, and my results weren’t there yet. I’m an honest guy about my scores, and for me, it’s keep learning, keep getting better. And when you come out here every week, you’re around the greatest players, so when I get out here, obviously I want to compete and play well, but to see how Bryson hits it, how he gets ready for events, or seeing Scottie Scheffler hitting balls, I’m taking it all in and piecing together what I can use.
“I’m not discouraged by how I’m playing. The results aren’t showing right now, but I know I’m going to keep getting better and better, and I’ve got plenty of time to prove myself.”
Much of that developmental process, at least for the remainder of this year, will come on the LIV Golf tour, as Piot signed on to play in all eight tournaments, including last week’s season opener in London. He tied for 25th out of 48 players – and cashed $166,000. To put that into perspective, that’s more than Akshay Bhatia, who sits 23rd on the Korn Ferry Tour money list, has made in 14 events this season.
Piot, despite being a U.S. Amateur champion, had no status on any tour – and no remaining sponsor invites on the table other than his Open Championship exemption courtesy of his U.S. Amateur win – when he agreed to play the LIV events.
“I was searching for sponsor exemptions, and you get a lot of maybes,” Piot said.
Piot has already taken his fair share of heat from the press for playing the Saudi-backed league, but after last week’s event in London, he felt good with the choice he had made. He notes that it’s nice to be financially in a nice spot coming out of college, which has allowed him to focus more on his game, and to not have to go grind on the mini-tours after these PGA Tour and major exemptions run out.
But he adds that the decision is not heavily driven by money. In his eyes, he has a tour that wants him and has allowed him a stage to prove himself.
“People are saying I’m taking the easy way out, but I want to win and I want to compete,” Piot said. “It’s not about the checks, it’s about competing and winning. For me, the dream’s playing golf. Being around the great players out here and at the LIV events, I learn a lot, and my end goal is to beat them and make a name for myself.
“At the end of the day, I hope to have the ability to still play on Tour. Growing up, every young kid dreams of the PGA Tour, but at the same time, I’m playing golf for a living, I’m doing what I love. LIV’s been awesome to me. … Based on how they treated us Week 1, it felt like I was in the right place playing.”