Canton’s James Piot Wins Historic 100th GAM Championship at Franklin Hills
FRANKLIN – James Piot hit his drives far and in the fairway repeatedly and won the historic 100th GAM Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Franklin Hills Country Club Tuesday.
“I missed only one fairway, at 13, so that really kept me in it, always having a shot at birdie so it was pretty stress free after the first four or five holes,” said the Michigan State University golfer from Canton after shooting a final 1-under 69 to finish with a 7-under 203 total and two-shot win.
It was the second GAM title for Piot, who also won in 2018.
Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms, a University of Wisconsin golfer, and Piot’s Michigan State teammate, Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids, this summer’s Michigan Open Champion, tied for second at 205.
Smithson shot a closing 67 while Smith set a course record on the revered Donald Ross-designed Franklin Hills course with an 8-under 62.
The previous record was 63, set in 1964 by professional Ted Kroll. The current course plays at par 71 for members. The GAM played it at par 70 turning a shorter par 5 into a par 4. The course in 1964 played to par 72.
“I didn’t expect to be able to catch the leaders, not with the way I putted in the first two rounds,” Smith said. “I just wanted to get top-10 to be exempt for next year. The 62 is my best score by one. I made a putting adjustment last night, and made more today, and I hit quite a few shots really close today, too. I really hit some great wedges.”
Smithson, who made birdies on two of the first three holes, said he tried to put pressure on playing in the final group with his teammate, but that Piot played solidly through the day.
“At No. 4 if I could have gotten up-and-down there for birdie, then maybe I put something in James’ head, but he just kept going like he always does. He played great.”
Zach Robbins of Grand Rapids and Cleveland State University, the leader after Monday’s first two rounds, shot a closing 75 for 208.
Michigan Amateur champion Patrick Sullivan of Grosse Pointe also finished at 208 with a final 68, and Grand Valley State golfer, Charles DeLong of DeWitt, shot 70 for 209.
Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor, the 2020 Michigan Amateur champion, who shot 69, John Quigley of Sterling Heights, who shot 70, and Austin Fauser of Clinton, who shot 70, rounded out the top 10 at 211.
Piot, who made the prestigious Sweet 16 at the Western Amateur last week and is headed to the U.S. Amateur Championship next week, said it was fun battling with fellow Spartan Smithson in the same pairing through the round.
“Really, after the fourth hole I put the pedal to the metal and things got a lot better,” Piot said. “I had in my mind I wanted to get to 10-under par and win or lose that would be a great score. I didn’t get there, but I did get the tournament and it feels great. Getting a trophy makes everything better.”
Franklin Hills hosted the 100-year-old GAM member state championship for the seventh time dating to 1931. Piot called it the best venue and course condition combined that he has ever played in a Michigan championship.
“It’s really perfect here,” he said. “I want to thank Franklin Hills for having us here, and the GAM for running great tournaments.”
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