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GAM Player of the Year

Posted on November 12th, 2021

Canton’s James Piot Tops 2021 Men’s Points List

FARMINGTON HILLS – James Piot of Canton, who this summer became the only Michigan golfer to ever win the U.S. Amateur Championship, said after being named the GAM Men’s Player of the Year in 2020 that he wanted to finish 2021 tournaments with more trophies.

“I’d say I got a few good ones,” the Michigan State University golfer quipped.

Piot, 23, topped the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Points List for the second consecutive year and has been named the 2021 GAM Men’s Player of the Year, Ken Hartmann, senior director of competitions and USGA services, announced today.

Player of the Year point totals can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org. Earlier this week Kimberly Dinh of Midland was named the GAM Women’s Player of the Year. Over the next few weeks the GAM will announce more Players of the Year in gender and age categories.

Piot, who also won the GAM Championship at Franklin Hills Country Club, totaled 1,495 points to top the list. The largest amount of points came from the U.S. Amateur and GAM wins, but the GAM member via Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center also made the prestigious final 16 in the Western Amateur Championship and had other significant top finishes on the national amateur circuit.

Patrick Sullivan of Grosse Pointe and Country Club of Detroit, a University of Michigan golfer who won the Michigan Amateur Championship, including a quarterfinal round match play win over Piot, finished second with 518 points.

Grant Haefner of West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake Country Club, a Jacksonville University (Fla.) golfer, was third with 535 points.

Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids and Egypt Valley Country Club, a teammate of Piot’s at Michigan State, became just the sixth amateur to win the Michigan Open Championship, finished fourth with 463 points, and Tyler Rayman of Otsego and Lake Doster Golf Club, an Eastern Michigan University golfer who was runner-up to Sullivan in the Michigan Amateur, rounded out the top five with 360 points.

Piot, who is also a past Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, said topping the points list is a goal for him each summer.

“It’s a goal in my head every year and part of trending the right way for where I want to be in the future,” he said. “It validates your hard work and I consider it a big accomplishment. I’m proud of it and proud to represent the GAM and the state of Michigan. I couldn’t be more grateful to win it again.”

He called winning the U.S. Amateur life-changing. He plans to play in the Masters Tournament via the invitation that goes out to the U.S. Amateur winner and will play Augusta National for the first time next week with Michigan State coaches Casey Lubahn, Dan Ellis and an Augusta member who is also a Michigan State alum.

“Winning the U.S. Am is something you think you can do, but you don’t always picture it happening,” Piot said. “Things have been crazy since it happened. I’m super blessed by all the things that have happened because of it. It was the coolest moment of my life.”

When his final spring college season has ended and he has played in the Masters, Piot plans to turn professional and take advantage of the sponsor’s exemptions that will come his way at U.S. Amateur champion.

“It gives me a leg up on a professional career that has always been my goal,” he said.

Piot called GAM tournaments the favorite events each summer.

“Ever since I was a kid GAM tournaments have been the ones I look forward to the most,” he said. “You get a chance to prove yourself against the best players in the state, they are usually close to home and you get to try and beat your buddies. They’re fun. One thing that is still in the back of my head is that I haven’t won the Michigan Am, but I won the U.S. Am and that’s not too bad.”

Hartmann called Piot a class act who treats everyone around him with respect.

“Winning the U.S. Amateur – it couldn’t happen to a better guy,” he said. “I’m proud of him and it is still exciting to think about what he did. That accomplishment will probably never be matched in our lifetime. He’s a phenomenal golfer, very talented, but he also demonstrates what hard work can do. He may not have won a Michigan Amateur, but he has been the player to beat year-after-year.”

Midland’s Kimberly Dinh Tops 2021 Women’s Points List

FARMINGTON HILLS – Kimberly Dinh of Midland looked over her summer golf statistics with her coach, PGA professional Kyle Martin of The Fortress in Frankenmuth, and they noticed across-the-board improvement.

“It’s crazy to think I’m a better player now than at the end of my college career when I was playing all the time,” she said. “It’s cool and motivating to know there is a little more out there.”

Dinh, 29, topped the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Points List and has been named the 2021 GAM Women’s Player of the Year, Ken Hartmann senior director of competitions and USGA services for the GAM, announced today.

Player of the Year point totals can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org. Over the next few weeks the GAM will announce more Players of the Year in gender and age categories.

Dinh, a GAM member through Midland Country Club, keyed her season by winning the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship, reaching the round of 16 in match play in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and finishing second in the GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.

The Senior Research Specialist for Dow Chemical in her hometown of Midland, she played in just four tournaments using her four weeks of vacation from work – two GAM championships and two USGA championships – but totaled 860 points for the season.

Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield and a member through Tam O’Shanter Country Club, was second with 625 points. The University of Michigan golfer won the GAM Women’s Championship and was runner-up to Dinh in the Michigan Women’s Amateur.

Chelsea Collura of Riverview, a member through West Shore Golf & Country Club, was third with 335 points. Oakland University senior golfer Veronica Haque of Rochester (315) and Northern Illinois University golfer Jasmine Ly of Windsor and Sylvan Glen Golf Course (305) rounded out the top five.

Dinh, who played college golf at the University of Wisconsin and then played zero competitive golf during five years of graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said winning the Michigan Amateur was the highlight of the summer and her golf career to this point.

She won a tense 1-up match with Schulz at Saginaw Country Club. She rifled a 178-yard hybrid shot inside 10-feet and made par on the long par-4 18th while Schulz made bogey.

“Winning that tournament has always been one of my top goals, and to hit that shot at 18 against a great opponent in a tough match with the pin tucked was just very exciting,” she said. “I was able to execute under pressure. It was nice to see and rewarding, too.”

Dinh was surprised she won Player of the Year. She admitted she didn’t pay attention to the points because she assumed playing in four tournaments would not be enough.

“I didn’t realize I was in the running,” she said. “I’m pretty excited I won. I didn’t compete much, but I played well when I did. I practiced when I could, worked with Kyle on specific things and it paid off.”

She plans to play a similar schedule next summer and is excited for the opportunity to make another run in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.

“I played even-par golf the whole week and it really came down to missing a short putt and a couple of timely bogeys,” she said. “Overall I played well. I went in thinking I could win this year, and I know it’s a possibility. I’m certainly going to try.”

Hartmann said Dinh winning Player of the Year off of four tournaments is an impressive accomplishment.

“Especially now that she is working,” he said. “It’s tough to compete with the younger players who have more opportunities to play and more time to practice. She has found a way. She is gifted with intelligence, works hard on her game when she can and takes nothing for granted. It looks like she has taken the successful approach to her academics and applied it to her golf.”

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