Home » Michigan State’s James Piot Joins Phil Mickelson’s Team As Liv Season Gets Under Way

Michigan State’s James Piot Joins Phil Mickelson’s Team As Liv Season Gets Under Way

LIV golf’s season season kicks off this week in Mayakoba, Mexico. There are 14 LIV tournaments in 2023.

Piot, the Michigan State alum who won the 2021 U.S. Amateur championship, will be part of golf Hall-of-Famer Phil Mickelson’s team for the upcoming LIV golf season.

Mickelson, the captain of the rival tour’s HY Flyers GC team, selected Piot, Cameron Tringale and Brendan Steele to round out his four-man team. LIV golf tournaments feature 48 players, competing for individual and team championships. There are 12 four-man teams.

Piot, 24, from Canton, signed up with LIV golf before the start of last season, inking a two-year deal that included a $3 million signing bonus — big money for a recent college grad with no other professional tour status, but pennies compared to the lavish, nine-figure bonuses the Saudi Arabia-backed league doled out to the biggest names like Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.

Piot also earned nearly $2 million in prize money in 2022, ranking 35th on LIV’s money list.

Piot received plenty of criticism, as all LIV golfers did, for signing with the tour, which is accused of sportswashing — trying to use money from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, to cover up the nation’s atrocious human-rights record. Piot’s coaches rushed to his defense, and Piot explained his decision, too.

“For me, it’s just about the journey of playing golf. I understand there’s a lot of controversy,” Piot told The News last year. “But for me, it’s an exciting opportunity … to be able to travel the world and make money doing it.”

Piot’s caddie is Dan Ellis, who worked for Piot during the U.S. Amateur as well as his Masters appearance last spring. Ellis resigned his gig as assistant men’s golf coach at Michigan State to join LIV, earning a massive pay boost.

Mickelson has been one of the faces of LIV, even before he officially signed on. He took major heat last winter after comments he made about Saudi Arabia and criticizing the PGA Tour went public. Mickelson is believed to have earned a suspension from the PGA Tour over his comments.

Mickelson, 51, officially joined LIV golf last June, for a reported $200 million. He finished behind Piot at the LIV money list, at 40th.

Players who signed on with LIV earned banishments from the PGA Tour. It’s unclear how that could affect Piot moving forward, since he never had PGA Tour status to begin with.

The 2023 LIV golf season kicks off Friday at Mayakoba, Mexico, for a three-day tournament. LIV events — there are 14 this year, up from eight in 2022 — are 54 holes, don’t have a cut, and feature shotgun starts.

Greg Norman, the league’s frontman, doled out some $784 million of the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s money for the 2022 season, and there was very little return, with nearly no sponsors, small crowds and no TV deal. This year’s LIV tournaments will air on The CW Network, which is more known for teen soaps than sports. The league hopes it eventually will become financially solvent, through the team aspect of the league, which it’s trying to liken to soccer.

There will be $405 million in prize money for LIV in 2023, with even last-place finishers earning six figures. The PGA Tour has greatly boosted its prize money, by way of several “elevated” events, in response to the arrival of LIV, though that payout still pales in comparison: $500 million over 47 tournaments.

source: detroitnews