It didn’t hit him the first time, but that second trip up Magnolia Lane brought the emotions for Glenn Piot.
Earlier this week, as he made that famous drive toward Augusta National’s clubhouse with his son, James, Glenn fired up the Masters theme song, “Augusta.”
“I put the Masters music on, if that’s corny,” Glenn said with a laugh, as he watched James, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, go through a practice session Monday afternoon.
“James goes, ‘What are you, nuts?’ I had an emotional moment and I don’t like to have those.”
James, the 23-year-old set for his Masters debut, didn’t mind.
“It’s the coolest thing ever to share that with your dad. To kind of know that you made it here to the Masters, it’s what you dream of as a kid,” James said.
“Sharing that with your dad is the coolest thing in the world. He wanted to play the music and I was like, ‘Sure, yeah, whatever you need dad.’ He started tearing up and he’s not an emotional guy.”
A fifth-year college golfer at Michigan State, the Canton, Mich., native is the first player from the state to win the U.S. Amateur. He earned his spot in the 86th Masters with a comeback victory at Oakmont Country Club.
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Facing a three-hole deficit with nine holes to play at the U.S. Amateur, Piot rallied for a dramatic win in the championship match. This week will mark the first of three majors he’s eligible to play in this year, along with the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
But, as he and his father continually said Monday, James believes it’ll be hard to top the experience at Augusta National.
One perk of being an amateur is the standing invitation to stay in the Crow’s Nest, which is located on the second floor of the clubhouse and houses the tournament’s amateurs. James took advantage of that opportunity Sunday night.
“I woke up (Monday) in the Crow’s Nest and had breakfast on the patio there,” James said.
“You’re looking out and you’re like, ‘Holy crap, there’s a lot of people here.’ Just the whole experience has been awesome. You’re hitting putts next to (Dustin Johnson) and I have to keep carrying my credentials around because people think I’m a 13-year-old spectator this week. It’s pretty funny.”
Prior to sharing a green with Johnson, the 2020 Masters champion, James had a brush with five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods on Sunday.
Playing a practice round with fellow amateur Aaron Jarvis, James watched as Jarvis sprinted over to the 11th tee box and asked Woods if the two amateurs could practice with him.
“He had the courage to run over on 11 tee to ask him,” James said. “(Woods) just smiled and said he was playing by himself … It was awesome. That little interaction with Tiger was the coolest thing in the world.”
James’ mom, Judy, soaked up every “out-of-body” moment of Monday’s practice session. She snapped picture after picture with her disposable camera in an attempt to capture all of the memories.
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Those feelings will intensify Thursday when James heads to the tee box for his opening shot of the tournament.
“I might cry,” Judy said. “I’m gonna keep the sunglasses on.”
Glenn added: “It’s surreal. I don’t want to compare it to a religious experience but you grow up watching this all your life.
“We thought maybe our son would be able to play pro golf, but you never envisioned him playing the Masters. … You never think of Augusta, so it’s amazing. It’s like winning the lottery.”
And James will gladly welcome the stresses of spring in Augusta.
“My hands are gonna be shaking. In your head, you’re just saying, ‘Hit it solid,’ ” he said.
“I’ll soak it all in, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing – playing as an amateur in the Masters.”
Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at [email protected].
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism