MSU’s James Piot a surprise addition to Saudi tour; coaches rush to his defense

James Piot, the reigning US Amateur champion and recently graduated Michigan State golf star, has signed up to play the new, lucrative and controversial LIV golf tour.

Piot was on the list of 42 players set to play the Saudi Arabia-financed tour’s inaugural event, in London next week. He turned professional last week and is free to cash checks at tournaments.

Piot is playing in the PGA Tour’s Memorial this week in Dublin, Ohio, on a sponsor’s exemption, before he travels overseas to play the LIV tour. Piot did not return a message from The News this week, but two of Piot’s long-time coaches defended the 23-year-old Canton native’s decision.

James Piot won the US Amateur last year and potentially will play the Rocket Mortgage Classic on a sponsor's exemption.

“James is comfortable with his decision. He’s got a place to play,” said Brian Cairns, the head pro at Fox Hills in Plymouth, who has worked with Piot almost all of his life. “He’s getting paid to play golf. Mission accomplished.

“I support his decision 1,000%.”

The Saudi-funded golf league, which is out to rival the PGA Tour, has been met by stark criticism over Saudi Arabia’s human-rights atrocities. Most of the game’s best players have rejected overtures – and tens of millions of dollars – to spur the PGA Tour.

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