EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – James Piot has been swinging for the greens all season long. The Michigan State senior has been named to the All-Big Ten first team, and now has a chance to advance to the NCAA championship this week.
“It’s a big deal,” Piot said via Zoom. “This is kind of why you play the game and college sports, you know, to have the ability to win a national championship and do something special.”
Piot was given the No. 1 seed, out of ten individuals, competing at the Kingston Springs Regional, on May 17-19. He’ll need the lowest score of an individual not on one of the five advancing teams to qualify for the championship.
To some, that may seem intimidating, but to MSU’s golf coach, Casey Lubahn, he knows Piot will up for the challenge.
“Oh, he expects to win,” Lubahn said. “Winning takes a little bit of luck, some putts have to go in, but if you’re hanging around every week that’s where great players get to. Jack Nicklaus finishing second in a major 19 times, that tells me more about how good Jack Nicklaus than winning 18 times, and James is kind of that player.”
This will be the third time Piot has qualified for regionals, however, this year will be the first time he’s going by himself. Michigan State, as a team, wasn’t able to qualify for regionals. In 2018, as a freshman, Piot shot 1-over-par (222) and tied for 30th at regionals. The following year, as a sophomore he shot an even-par (210) and tied for 40th at regionals.
Piot will be the first Spartan to play in the regionals as an individual since Matthew Moseley did it in 2013.
“Usually you got other guys that counting on, as far as to get scores in there and have a good week as a team,” Piot said. “If you have a rough day, you got four other guys to support you and tell you ‘I got you. Tomorrow’s going to be alright.’ Now with it being individualized, everything I do is just under a microscope.”
“When you got a guy like James Piot, you kind of let him do his thing,” Lubahn said. “You get him tuned up before the tournament starts, and then you give him a scorecard and a lunch and you say ‘Go get it.'”
Piot is currently the program’s all-time leader in career average (72.16), which tops current PGA Tour pro Ryan Brehm by one stroke. Making it to the spot as Brehm is the goal for Piot once he leaves East Lanisng.
“One more year of school, and then going pro and aiming for that PGA Tour level of play,” Piot said. “Just trying to get better year after year. That’s been my goal and that’s going to be the goal until I make it to that level. So, hopefully, only time will tell, but that’s been a goal since I was a young kid and I hope I achieve that.”
You can follow along and see how Piot does throughout the three-day regional tournament here.