Eskymos Rise to Challenges in Repeat

May 31, 2018

By Mark Johnson
Special for Second Half

HARRIS - Back-to-back Upper Peninsula Division 1 golf championships is a sweet payoff for the Escanaba boys golf team.

The Eskymos were the top team again Thursday, after battling a difficult course at Sweetgrass Golf Club, an afternoon heavy downpour and rain delay and the top U.P. boys golf teams.

“The team performed great,” said Escanaba coach Brian Robinette. “You don’t shoot 317 on a demanding course like this unless your players are focused. This course can beat you down if you let it. Our team was tournament tough today.”

Team balance was the key for the Eskymos, and the 2018 champions were led by senior Nathan Rosseau’s runner-up individual finish (41-34-75). Rosseau said he used the rain delay to his advantage.

“It was a momentum change. I am happy with how I came back on the back nine to shoot a 34,” said Rosseau. “It is awesome to win back-to-back U.P.s, and all our guys were putting up numbers. We played well to win on two tough, tough courses at the GNCs and on this course. Here you are one swing away from a double.”

Sweetgrass played 6,400 yards for the Division 1 championship, using the forward tees. And following the heavy rains, it was a wet golf course before the sun bake and temperatures rose into the 80s for the late afternoon finish on the plush Harris layout.

Robinette praised his senior leader Rosseau and his championship team.

“Nathan is a coach’s dream,” said Robinette. “He is always working on his game, and he puts in the time and I am very proud of all our team winning again this year.”

Escanaba’s Brett McDonough shot 35-44-79 to tie for fifth overall, Trevor Denome carded a 42-38-80 and Jaden Gravelle was the fourth scoring player with a 40-43-83 for the winners.

Gladstone’s Rudy Peterson was the medalist firing a 37-37-74 despite a double bogey on his final hole.

“I hit the ball really well today,” said Peterson. “I played probably the best I have in a long time. My driver was good and my wedges were really good today; I only missed three or four greens.”

Calumet was the team runner-up shooting a 322.

Wyatt Tuoriniemi shot a 43-35-78 to led the second-place finishers, placing fourth individually.

Calumet teammate Tyler Johnson scored a 39-40-79 to tie for fifth.

“They have a nice team,” Robinette said of the Copper Kings. “They have four good players, and we always battled with Houghton (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 champions) too for years.”

Robinette’s teams have now won three U.P. team titles with the other championship in 2011.

Gladstone was third in the team standings with a 336 score. Marquette was fourth (340), and Houghton rounded out the top five with a 344 team tally.

Braves’ coach Dane Quigley was disappointed his team did not contend for the title but happy for individual winner Peterson.

“Our team is disappointed, but we have some four-year players who have been with our program a long time and have done well,” said Quigley.

“At our practice round on Wednesday, Rudy shot a 69, and it carried over to the course today. I am impressed with Rudy’s play all season long for us.”

Marquette junior Jordan Jurma shot a 39-38-77 to place third overall and his coach Ben Smith commented on Jurma’s grit.

“Jordan finished his junior year playing really well today. He eagled number four on a hole-out from 100 yards and chipped in on a par five for an eagle,” said Smith. “He battled back from some penalty shots and bad shots, and he hung in there and competed to the end.”

Sweetwater yielded only seven scores in the 70s, and 16 other golfers shot scores in the 80s.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Escanaba’s championship team, from left: coach Brian Robinette, Trevor DeNome, Jaden Gravelle, Nathan Rousseau, Nick Ramos, Brett McDonough and coach Jake Berlinski. (Middle) Gladstone’s Rudy Peterson. (Photos by Mark Johnson.)

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.)