Eichhorn Leads Carney-Nadeau Title Hunt

May 29, 2015

By Keith Shelton
Special for Second Half

GLADSTONE — Carney-Nadeau sophomore Hunter Eichhorn has displayed a flair for playing under pressure in a tournament atmosphere. He proved it as a freshman a year ago, winning a playoff for his first Upper Peninsula medalist.

This year however, there was nothing but dominance.

Eichhorn blazed through the course at Irish Oaks, collecting multiple birdies and blowing the rest of the field away with a 4-under par 68 — among the lowest scores in recent U.P. Finals history — to once again take medalist honors Thursday at the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final.

Eichhorn's 68 came in six strokes better than anyone else, and also bested his winning score from last season by three strokes — the result of relentless work to continually improve his game. In fact, after finishing his round Thursday, Eichhorn immediately went back to work on the putting green, displaying the kind of work ethic rarely seen in a young athlete.

"I always like to improve. I keep putting in time, and it was nice to see the results show that," Eichhorn said.

Carney-Nadeau head coach Jake Polfus has seen Eichhorn's competitive side come out plenty of times before, but is still impressed by it.

"What does he do when he gets done with his round? He goes to the putting green," Polfus said. "How many kids do you see do that, especially when you have to walk that far. It's a tribute to how much time he puts in."

Like a true competitor however, though generally satisfied with his round — he came up with six birdies and avoided a double bogey — Eichhorn remained slightly critical of himself.

"I didn't hit my tee shots very straight today, but I putted well and I was able to recover. I hit some solid iron shots from places I didn't want to be in," he said. "I had two good eagle putts and both came about an inch from the hole, but tapping birdies aren't that bad I guess. I had one bad lip-out for par, and I 3-putted another hole, but that was about it."

Led by Eichhorn, the Wolves also were able to claim the team title for the first time in school history with a total score of 342 — two strokes better than Munising and DeTour — among the 23-school field. That largely was due to the performance of sophomore Kage Linder, who shot a career-best 86, and freshman Chase Linder, who shot 53 on the back nine, but recovered to card a 45 on the front, coming in under 100 for that final push.

"Chase played a lot better in the front, and Kage had his best round of the year by about 8-10 shots. That's huge," said Eichhorn. "To be able to get a team trophy for the first time is pretty awesome. It's all about the team. I like to improve on myself and win, but it's nice to get a team trophy."

Painesdale-Jeffers, which was shooting for a U.P. Finals four-peat, settled for fifth and couldn't overcome a steep drop-off after runner-up medalist Jacob Zerbst's 74. All five of Cedarville's golfers came in under 100 as well, as the Trojans placed fourth with a team score of 347.

Thursday marked the final event of Dave Duncan's long coaching career. Duncan, who has a 429-166 record coaching boys basketball, will retire just as his son Joey, an all-state basketball player and solid golfer in his own right, graduates.

There was much anxiety and excitement toward the end of the day as players and coaches gathered around the scoreboard. Munising and DeTour were among the first complete teams to finish, and both came in at 344. The tiebreaker went to Munising, with the Mustangs' fifth golfer Kyle Welters (98) providing the necessary edge.

The Wolves may not be going anywhere, anytime soon. All five of their golfers Thursday were freshmen or sophomores, and with the star power of Eichhorn, interest in the program could only grow. On Thursday, Eichhorn was the only golfer to have a decent-sized gallery following him throughout the day.

"Hunter really played great today, better than I think he was even expecting. For as much golf as he plays, he's only going to get better," said Polfus. "Chase going from a 53 on the back nine to a 45 out front, that's huge for us, and really made a big difference. Kage shot his best score of the season.

"It's just awesome," Polfus added. "The kids were excited as they were adding up the scores. It's really cool."

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PHOTOS: (Top) Carney-Nadeau’s Hunter Eichhorn unloads a shot en route to a first-place 68 at Thursday’s Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final. (Middle) Painesdale-Jeffers’ Jacob Zerbst lines up a putt on No. 14 at Irish Oaks Golf Club. (Photos by Keith Shelton.)

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

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)