James Piot rallied from a three-hole deficit with the help of three birdies over the final eight holes on Sunday to capture the 121st U.S. Amateur Championship at demanding Oakmont Country Club with a 2-and-1 victory over Austin Greaser.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world. I mean, as an amateur it’s the best thing you can do. After making that putt on 17, I was just like, oh, my God. I might’ve done it. It feels phenomenal, shows the hard work I’ve done is paying off,” the 22-year-old Piot said.
Greaser, 20, assumed a 3-up lead with a par on the par-4 ninth hole at Oakmont, the 27th of the match. But Piot began his winning comeback on the next hole, the 474-yard, par-4 10th, a hole that the fifth-year Michigan State senior owned this week: he won it in all five of his previous matches, and twice more in the championship match vs. Greaser, a junior at the University of North Carolina.
Piot hit his 9-iron approach shot to four feet and converted the birdie putt, then won No.11 with a par as Greaser three-putted for a bogey from about 12 feet. Piot then won the par-5 12th with a par and the par-3 13th with a conceded birdie to take his first lead in the match since he led, 1 up, at the 18-hole lunch break.
“When I got down, I knew that my driver had been a bit shaky,” said Piot, the No. 31 seed, who becomes the first golfer from Michigan to win the U.S. Amateur. “I just tried to stay confident in myself. I wanted to play the back nine in 4 under and I ended up playing it in three-under.”
Greaser stopped the bleeding by converting a 20-foot birdie putt to match Piot’s up-and-down birdie on the short par-4 14th, but Piot extended his lead to 2 up with a solid par on the 502-yard, par-4 15th, as Greaser drove into the ‘Mini-Church Pews’ bunker and was forced to lay up short of the green. He missed an 18-foot putt to tie the hole.
Both players parred the next two holes, the par-3 16th and par-4 17th. On the drivable 17th, both found the deep bunker to the left of the green, and Piot put his second shot over the green into another bunker. But he got up and down for par from there, and Greaser missed his 10-foot birdie putt that would have extended the match to No.18.
“He hit a really good shot on 10, to three feet for a birdie; hats off to him there,” said Greaser, the 2020 Ohio Amateur champion. “That was a good start. Then I just made some mistakes there on 11, 12, 13, just bogey, bogey, bogey. That's never going to look good on the scorecard. Just didn’t execute coming down the stretch.”
What the Champion Receives
- A gold medal and custody of the Havemayer Trophy for one year.
- A 10-year exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship.
- An exemption into the 2022 U.S. Open, as well as an exemption into the 2022 Open Championship and a likely invitation to the 2022 Masters Tournament.
What the Runner-up Receives
- A silver medal and a three-year exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship.
- An exemption into the 2022 U.S. Open and a likely invitation to the 2022 Masters Tournament.