Clinton Ace 'Sharpened' for Last Prep Swing

April 8, 2019

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

CLINTON – Austin Fauser is feeling a little dangerous.

The Clinton senior golfer won the Lower Peninsula Division 4 championship as a sophomore and tied for third last season. Now, having already committed to a college and with a host of medals and honors in his collection, Fauser is fired up for one more high school season.

“They say the most dangerous player on the golf course is the one who has nothing to lose,” Fauser said. “I have nothing to lose this season.”

Fauser is rested, especially mentally. He was admittedly a little disappointed with not repeating as the Division 4 champion in June. After a busy summer on the course, he focused on his other sport for the winter – basketball – and took some time away from his passion in life, golf.

“The offseason was fine, but when it ended, I really focused on basketball,” the 18-year-old said. “It was nice to get a break. Sometimes it helps to get your mind off things. Everybody has a point where they need a break. I got out a club when I could, but basketball was on my mind.”

This winter, Fauser averaged about six points a game as a solid contributor for the Redskins.

“Basketball is different, but a lot of sports are the same,” Fauser said. “You have to be mentally tough in any sport to not just be good but to excel in it. In basketball, they say to keep shooting, keep shooting. In golf, you have to be mentally tough to shrug off when you miss one and focus on that next shot.”

Fauser helped Clinton qualify for the MHSAA Finals as a freshman. Playing at Forest Akers West that weekend, he shot a 76 on the first day and ended up ninth while his team placed fifth.

As a sophomore, Fauser was medalist in nine straight competitions and tied the Division 4 Final record (since broken) by shooting a two-day 5-under-par 139 at Forest Akers East.

Fauser shot a 3-under 69 on the first day, then came back with a 70 on Saturday, tying the record set by Colby Beckstrom of North Muskegon in 2001. It wasn’t just that Fauser did it but how he did it – staying mentally focused.

On the sixth hole at Forest Akers East, Fauser sank a 35-foot birdie putt, then hit the water on the very next hole. Fauser, just 15, wasn’t fazed. He hit a wedge shot to within five feet on his next shot, saving par.

Fauser’s junior year was just as impressive. He won the Lenawee County individual title while helping his team to the top spot, was the Tri-County Conference champion as an individual as his team finished first as well and won the Regional individual title to lead his team to another championship.

“He has really sharpened his mental game this year,” Clinton coach Nito Ramos said. “I expect him to contend for the top spot in all of our tournaments.”

Fauser is like having another coach on the golf course, Ramos said. He’s always helping the younger players with their games while finding time to focus on his own.

“I enjoy watching him interact with the entire team, giving them pointers here and there,” Ramos said. “He’s a great team member, especially with our really young golf team this season.”

Fauser isn’t the only one in his family passionate about golf. The Fausers have a golf simulator in their barn along with a 40-foot putting green. Like a basketball player that goes into his backyard to shoot hoops, Fauser picks up a wedge or putter and heads to his barn.

“The greens run about the same as a really good course, about nine or 10 on the meter,” he said. “I’m out there all of the time. I putt on that green a ton. I’ll tell myself that I’m going to go out and hit 200 or 300 balls into the simulator, but I end up hitting 50 and go to the green.

“It helps out a lot, especially being in Michigan. I don’t like the cold weather. I can just go to the barn when I need to and relieve stress.”

Fauser also snuck in a golfing trip to Arizona during a break in the basketball schedule.

The Clinton team benefits from the Fausers’ simulator. During the preseason when it’s too cold, windy or snowy to get onto the local course, Ramos can work with his golfers in the Fausers’ barn.

“Once we get outside, we get outside. But until then, this simulator is great,” Fauser said.

Clinton has the pieces to make a fourth straight run at the Division 4 title. The Redskins host the Regional at Rustic Glen Golf Course and, in addition to Fauser, return juniors Garrett Ramos and Daniel Shovels from the lineup that finished seventh at the Final in 2018. Sophomore Eric Berndt is coming along, and a new golfer to the team, Will Gragg, has been a pleasant addition.

“We have a really good schedule this year,” Ramos said. “We have a lot of goals as a team.”

As for Fauser, he’s anxious to get onto the course. Ramos said the time away from the sport has been good for his star golfer.

“He took a couple months off and got back into the swing about January,” Ramos said. “He has really sharpened his mental game this year.”

Fauser will golf next season at Maryville University, a Division II program outside of St. Louis, Missouri. For now, however, he’s focused on the immediate goals ahead of him – especially for the Division 4 Final in June at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University.

“I still have to get better and work as hard as possible,” Fauser said. “It’s not going to be given to me. Last year was different. I felt a little bit of pressure, even though there really was none. I think I can achieve (the title) again.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Clinton’s Aaron Fauser fires an approach toward the green; he’s entering his final high school season with three top-10 Finals finishes including the 2017 championship in LP Division 4. (Middle) Fauser follows through on a putt. (Photos by Mike Dickie.)

Pinili Aiming to Add Medalist Honor as Brother Rice Seeks Finals 3-Peat

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

June 8, 2023

The phrase the “third time is a charm” might often be trite and overplayed, but it also couldn’t apply more to Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice senior golfer Lorenzo Pinili.

Greater DetroitTwo years ago as a sophomore, Pinili finished as the individual runner-up at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final, five shots out of first at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek.

Last year, Pinili was the runner-up again at Grand Valley State, valiantly rallying from an opening-round score of 76 to shoot a 68 on the second day at The Meadows, but still ending six shots behind.

Both years, Brother Rice won the team title, so Pinili still left happy.

But no doubt, he hopes the third time will be the charm from an individual point of view when he competes at this weekend’s Division 2 Final at The Fortress in Frankenmuth.

“This year, I definitely have a lot more motivation to finish first,” he said. “It’s a lot of patience. That’s what it is. I just have to trust my game and not really force anything. That’s what most people try to do. If they know they want to get a win or know they want to play well, they’re going to start forcing shots that’s out of their comfort zone or do stuff they don’t really do.”

Pinili, who will play collegiately at Michigan State, has been hitting a lot of good shots throughout a golfing life that started when he was 2 years old. 

In fact, while Pinili has no recollection of the moment he took up the game, his father Rommel has reminded him constantly throughout his life.

“He said that I picked up a stick while the TV was on and I tried to copy what was on TV,” Pinili said. “From there, he gave me a plastic club, and he gave me real balls. He thought I was making good contact. From there, he gave me real metal clubs, and I was able to hit balls. There’s actually a video on YouTube that you can find of me hitting golf balls at the range when I was 2. From there, it’s been with me my whole entire life.”

Pinili said if there’s one area of his game that has evolved more than any other since he began high school, it’s performing when the stakes are the highest.

The Warriors celebrate their second-straight team title, including Pinili (standing, third from left) and his younger brother Leandro (standing, fourth from right

Brother Rice associate coach David Sass echoed those sentiments about Pinili’s enhanced ability to stay even-keeled mentally under pressure.

“He has a tendency to have such a high level of expectation for his game, that can kind of prohibit him from looking beyond a simple mistake,” he said. “He’s been really good about doing that lately. Golf is very hard, and it’s really about managing your mistakes. Perfection is basically unattainable in golf. If he stays patient, understands that, picks his spots on when to be aggressive, is aggressive in that moment, and then plays it smart during moments he shouldn’t be aggressive, I think he’s got an incredible chance to win this thing.”

One of the biggest competitors for Pinili this weekend could be someone in the same household.

Leandro Pinili, a sophomore, finished in a tie for ninth last year at the LPD2 Tournament, and definitely helps push Lorenzo to greater heights in the game.

“We share a lot of passion with the game together, and sometimes it gets a little too competitive just because he wants to beat me and I can’t let him beat me,” Lorenzo said. “It’s really nice having someone besides me who understands the side of golf that I understand. It’s also really fun being able to play with my brother and compete with him. I really love it, and that’s one of the biggest things I’m going to miss about Brother Rice golf.”

And no doubt, Brother Rice will definitely miss Lorenzo Pinili when he finishes his high school career on Saturday at a course he is looking forward to playing because it will require precise shots.

“I think it will separate the best from the rest of the pack,” he said. “You really can’t get away with anything out there.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) Brother Rice's Lorenzo Pinili, right, tees off during the 2022 LP Division 1 Finals as Grand Rapids Christian's Adam Workman follows his shot. (Middle) The Warriors celebrate their second-straight team title, including Pinili (standing, third from left) and his younger brother Leandro (standing, fourth from right). Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)