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Wednesday's roundup: Piot moves into thick of race at Western Junior

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy will not play in the Rio Olympics.

Royal Oak — James Piot teed off Wednesday morning at Red Run Golf Club in the second round of the Western Junior Championship. And the Canton native thrust himself into the thick of things with a 3-under 66 that puts him in contention, five shots behind the leader.

Piot, a senior at Detroit Catholic Central High and a Michigan State commit, had an up-and-down day.

He made seven birdies but wasn’t able to stay consistent early, posting five bogeys the first 11 holes. He found something on the final seven, notching two birdies and five pars.

“I figured it out down the stretch and started making more par save putts,” he said.

Of the 11 Michigan juniors playing in this tournament, Piot was one of three to advance to the final rounds after the cut line was announced at 5-over-par. Nicholas Bonema of Troy and Andrew Walker of Battle Creek both made the cut right at the line. Fifty-eight of 154 players in the tournament made the cut.

Piot had a front row seat for the day’s biggest mover, 16-year-old Sean Maruyama, who leads the tournament at 7-under.

Playing in his first Junior Championship, Maruyama (Los Angeles) showed poise the first round despite heavy winds, turning in a 71 with two birdies and one bogey Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, Maruyama skyrocketed up the leaderboard with a 6-under 66. He tallied eight birdies and two bogeys, and it was on his last hole that he put his final touches on an impressive day.

After finding himself in the bunker on No. 18, Maruyama was able to get up-and-down by sinking a 20-foot putt for birdie.

“I just told my caddie I’m going to hit this as hard as I can,” Maruyama said. “My 3-wood failed me on the last couple holes, but other than that, I played really well.”

Andrew Kozan bounced back from a first day, 14-over-par 86 to shoot a second round best, 7-under 65.

He finished at 7-over for the tournament, and despite a 21-stroke swing from Day 1 to Day 2, Kozan missed the cut by two strokes.

“I have no explanation for it,” Kozan said of his first day score. “It was the worst tournament score I’ve ever had. Everything went wrong. Today I came out with no expectations and played better. It gives me confidence going into my next tournament.”

Divots

Tiger Woods can play soccer with kids and ride a bike but hasn’t progressed far enough in his rehab to set a time line on to return to professional golf.

... Rory McIlroy became one of the most high-profile stars to opt out of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because of concerns about the Zika virus, saying it is “a risk I am unwilling to take.”

... Inbee Park withdrew from the U.S. Women’s Open because of a left thumb injury.

The tournament is July 7-10 at CordeValle. The second-ranked player in the world won the event in 2008 at Interlachen and 2013 at Sebonack.

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer; Detroit News wire services contributed