OAKMONT, Pa. — After two rounds of stroke play and six rounds of match play, a national champion has been crowned.
Down three holes with just nine to play, Michigan State’s James Piot mounted an incredible comeback to flip the marathon 36-hole final match at the 121st U.S. Amateur and defeat North Carolina’s Austin Greaser 2-and-1.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world. I mean, as an amateur it’s the best thing you can do,” Piot said of the win. “It feels phenomenal. Shows the hard work I’ve done is paying off.”
Outside of Piot’s impressive performance, there was more to take away from the week at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh. Here’s what we learned from the U.S. Amateur.
Dreams come true
Just look at what the win meant to Piot.
Defending home turf
Americans have played well in the U.S Amateur in recent years, winning nine of the last 15, including the last three. And the guys they beat? Thirteen of the last 15 runners-up have been from the U.S.
Oakmont is a perfect test for amateurs
Earlier in the week players were able to take slight advantage of the famed track just outside Pittsburgh thanks to 2.5 inches of rain over three days, causing four lengthy weather delays. But on Saturday and Sunday the sun came out, the winds began to whip and the greens grew firm.
“I think it firmed up a lot,” Greaser said after losing in the final. “As this place gets firmer Oakmont starts to show its teeth more and more.”
Oakmont has deep ties to amateur golf. In addition to its record nine U.S. Opens, the club now has hosted six U.S. Amateurs, which ties it with Merion Golf Club and The Country Club for the most. The club will host the U.S. Open in 2025, but we’ll have to wait until the 2033 Walker Cup and 2046 U.S. Women’s Amateur until we see this level of amateur golf played there again.
Throw out the rankings in match play
Rankings are important and have their place in amateur golf, but they’re no indication of who will win the U.S. Amateur. Over the last 10 years, only four players ranked inside the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking have won: No. 2 Matt Fitzpatrick in 2013, No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau in 2015, No. 7 Curtis Luck in 2016 and No. 5 Viktor Hovland in 2018. And the other six? Piot was ranked 86th entering this last week. Last year’s champion at Bandon Dunes, Tyler Strafaci, was ranked No. 56 and his Georgia Tech teammate, Andy Ogletree, was 120th in 2019. Then there was No. 70 Doc Redman in 2017, Gunn Yang in 2014, who was No. 776 and Steven Fox in 2012 at 127th.
This year, only nine players who advanced to the Round of 16 were in the WAGR top 100: No. 5 Ricky Castillo, No. 26 Jacon Bridgeman, No. 28 Nick Gabrelcik, No. 44 Hugo Townsend, No. 45 Travis Vick, No. 47 Devon Bling, No. 82 Greaser, No. 86 Piot and No. 98 Ross Steelman.
NIL is h-e-r-e
A few players in the field this week were taking advantage of the new name, image and likeness rules, including three from Oklahoma State. KOCO anchor Carson Cunningham shared before the championship that Aman Gupta, Bo Jin and Brian Stark would wear a local Cadillac dealership’s gear for the week. Smart move by Wilson Cadillac, seeing as all three made match play, with Stark making a run to the quarterfinals.
College golf practice facilities