Detroit – Most of us won’t look fondly on the year 2021, which is starting to look a lot like 2020.

James Piot, however, is not most of us.

Piot, a senior at Michigan State, had the best year of his life, right up to the very end. Earlier this week in Florida, he was strolling the golf course with Rickie Fowler, who – understand it – was actually a replacement because former President Donald Trump and Rory McIlroy couldn’t.

While the result was nothing to write home about – Fowler and MSU golf coach Casey Lubahn beat Champions Tour golfer Tom Gillis, who hosted the game at Jack Nicklaus’s Bear’s Club in Jupiter, and Piot, 1- up – that was just another blessing in a packed year, headlining, of course, by his US Amateur Championship this summer at Oakmont.

Piot, a native of Canton, was the first Michigan native to win the United States Amateur Championship, after winning the Golf Association of Michigan Championship at Franklin Hills Country Club. He also did the Western Amateur Sweet 16.

In the spring, he had arguably the best season in Michigan state history, posting the lowest scoring average on the program (71.33), winning a tournament and placing at the NCAA Championships in as an individual.

It was the US Amateur, GAM Championship and Western Amateur presentations that earned Piot GAM Player of the Year honors for the first time, but perhaps not the last. He previously won the GAM Junior Male Player of the Year award.

“It’s a goal in my head every year and part of the right direction to where I want to be in the future,” he said of GAM honors. “It validates your hard work and I consider it a great accomplishment. I am proud and proud to represent GAM and the state of Michigan. I couldn’t be more grateful to earn it again.

One thing Piot won’t win anymore is the American amateur. He plans to turn pro after his senior season at MSU.

But the US amateur experience – and its aftermath – left unforgettable memories. He received a cry from Tom Izzo. He met Kirk Gibson. He threw a first pitch at Comerica Park. He was honored during an MSU football match. He was on Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff”. His face was on a billboard in Lansing and on a banner hanging at his home course clubhouse, Fox Hills in Plymouth. He represented the United States at Spirit International, a top amateur team tournament in Texas, where he won two medals.

And, oh, he made a shipment of money via name, picture, and likeness. The exact numbers are not known, but support has been strong following his victory at Oakmont – making him a unicorn in the NILsphere, where the big money usually flock to football and basketball players.

“Winning the US Am is something you think you can do, but you don’t always imagine it happening. Things have been crazy since this happened. I am super blessed with all the things that are happening. are produced because of it.

“It was the coolest time of my life.”

Left to right, Rickie Fowler, Tom Gillis, James Piot and Casey Lubahn pose at the Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla. Earlier this week.

The United States’ amateur victory earned Piot, 23, a berth at the 2022 Masters, where he has an offer to play a few practice holes with McIlroy as McIlroy was unable to make the match this week. He turned pro in the weeks that followed, but still played the US Open at Country Club in Massachusetts. Piot should transmit the British Open, which forces you to remain an amateur to cash the ticket to win the US Amateur (the US Open no longer requires you to maintain amateur status).

Other GAM players of the year include:

►Women: Kimberly Dinh, Midland

►Senior men: Jerry Gunthorpe, Ovide

►Senior women: Terry Delcamp, Grand Blanc

►Super senior: Rick Herpich, Orchard Lake

►Junior boys: PJ Maybank III, Cheboygan

►Young girls: Sophie Stevens, Highland

► Boys under 15: Max VanderMolen, Richland

► Girls under 15: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor

Fleas and divots

►The Ally Challenge, the stage of the Grand Blanc Champions Tour, announced that it had raised $ 1,315,678 for charity during its 2021 tournament, this money benefiting 20 charities in the great Flint, south-east of Michigan. This is the second time that the tournament has raised more than a million dollars. The tournament raised around $ 800,000 in 2020, despite the absence of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In four years, the tournament has raised over $ 4.5 million, with United Way of Genesee County as the primary beneficiary.

The Meijer LPGA Classic raised more than $ 1.1 million for charity in 2021, while the Great Lakes Bay Invitational of the LPGA Tour in Midland and the Rocket Mortgage Classic of the PGA Tour have not announced any numbers.

► Flint’s Willie Mack III won one of the biggest paychecks of his long, winding career earlier this month, when he tied for third at the Big Money Classic in Orlando, Fla. It earned him $ 20,250. It was a good rebound for Mack, who failed to secure his Korn Ferry Tour card for 2022, and will have to qualify on Monday and count on exemptions for Korn Ferry and PGA Tour departures. Mack, 33, has PGA Tour Latinoamérica status, having made multiple starts on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 – including at The Rocket, where he made his first cut, tied for 71st and won $ 15,075.

►Here is next year’s major golf program in Michigan: PGA Tour – Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit, July 28-31. LPGA Tour – Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield, June 16-19; Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Midland, July 13-16. Champions Tour – PGA Senior Championship, Benton Harbor, May 26-29; Ally Challenge, Grand Blanc, August 26-28.

►American Dunes, the former Grand Haven Country Club which was completely redesigned by Nicklaus and officially opened to the public in spring 2021, is starting to make its way up the national rankings, which was expected. It recently earned fourth place on Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course list.

►GAM has created a new award to recognize recognized efforts in equity, diversity and inclusion. Nominations for the first Champion of Diversity and Inclusion award must be made by January 17.

►Professional chef Scott Brotebeck moved to Walnut Creek in southern Lyon from the Flint Golf Club.

►The Michigan PGA Section will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022.

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Twitter: @ tonypaul1984