James Piot, August Meekhof, Tyler Copp and Logan Price March On
HARBOR SPRINGS – Four college golfers, two who opted to stay home and play for Michigan State University, and two who went south to Georgia and Florida are the semifinalists in the 109th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
James Piot of Canton, an MSU standout, will play incoming MSU freshman August Meekhof of Eastmanville near Grand Rapids in one semifinal Friday morning on The Heather course at Boyne Highlands Resort.
And Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor, who plays for Mercer University in Macon, Ga., will meet Logan Price of Grand Blanc, who has completed his golf eligibility at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla., in the other half of the match play bracket.
Winners of the semifinals will play for the championship in the afternoon.
The foursome advanced through round of 16 and quarterfinal matches Thursday.
“It was a good day, I hit some quality golf shots and feel like I’m playing well,” said Piot, who topped 15-year-old Lorenzo Pinili of Rochester Hills 4 and 3 in the round of 16 and held off a late charge by Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Woods and the University of Wisconsin 1-up in the quarterfinal round.
“It was good I had built a safety net (3-up through 14 holes) against Coalter because instead of giving myself birdie looks like I had been all day, I was having to make tough putts for par and he came back on me. I hit good shots at 17 and 18 to hold on. I feel good about that.”
Piot, 21 with two years of golf eligibility at MSU, is in the semifinals for the first time. The 2018 GAM Champion said he felt confident about the final day of the Amateur.
“I came through some tough matches today – that (Lorenzo) is the next big thing in junior golf, he’s a stud, and I’ve been battling Coalter since high school,” he said. “I feel like the game is ready. I want to go out and hit all the greens, and if I do something like that, I will be tough to beat.”
Meekhof, who will be 19 on July 3, has lost in the first round of match play in the Amateur the last two years. The 2019 GAM Boys Player of the Year was happy to get some match play wins.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well and my putting is starting to come around,” he said after topping Wayne State University golfer Grant Haefner 2 and 1 in the round of 16 and then beating John Quigley of St. Clair Shores 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals.
“I’ve focused on my tempo the last two weeks and that has been working pretty good. I hit a lot of greens and stayed steady today. I didn’t make a lot of birdies but rolled in a couple of long putts and that helped.”
He is looking forward to playing his teammate-to-be Piot in the semifinals.
“I’ve never played with him before and I know him a little bit,” he said. “I can’t wait to do it. I think it will be fun to see what I can do against him.”
Price, who shot a record-tying 64 at Oakland Hills North in last year’s Amateur stroke play first round, said he was happy to finally get through a few rounds of match play.
“This year I feel more prepared than I ever have been,” he said after beating Tyler Rayman of Otsego 5 and 4 in the round of 16, and making a 25-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to get past Zachary Robbins of Grand Rapids and Cleveland State University in the quarterfinal match.
“That putt on the playoff hole was my favorite part of the day,” he said after Robbins had birdied the 18th hole to force the match to 19 holes. “Grinding and getting it done made it a great day.”
Price, 22 and spending one more year at Florida Gulf Coast to earn a business degree, said his mental game has changed drastically.
“It’s a new year and I’m happy to be where I’m at,” he said. “I’ve been working hard for it and I’m beyond proud of myself. I’m going to keep grinding.”
Copp, 22 with two years of college eligibility remaining, earned his semifinal berth with a 2 and 1 win over Eric Spencer of Bloomfield Hills in the round of 16 and a 4 and 2 win over Charlie Green of Ann Arbor in the quarterfinals.
“I feel good and feel like I have the course down well,” he said. “I love match play. I feel comfortable in match play. I’m a competitive person and it suits me well. I just want to keep it going. There’s a lot of work yet to be done.”
Copp, who had an eagle-2 with a holed-out wedge shot on the par four No. 3 hole against Green, said he has played steady through the week.
“I haven’t made as many birdies as I would like, but I haven’t been putting myself in bad positions either,” he said. “Every match play round has been under par. I feel comfortable and confident I will always be in the match.”
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