St Ignace Stays Course, Surges to Win

June 1, 2017

By Adam Niemi
Special for Second Half

IRON RIVER — Claudette Brown couldn’t help but hold back tears Thursday.

But the fourth-year coach had good reason to feel emotional. Her first class of seniors on the St. Ignace boys golf team had just won the Upper Peninsula Division 2 Final title at George Young Golf Course.

Having coached them since their freshman year, Brown said the team overcame a challenging course for the win, highlighted by Carter Tallaire’s 80. St. Ignace’s 336 edged Iron River West Iron County (346) for the title.

“It was a very good day. They worked hard,” Brown said before pausing and choking back tears. “We had some struggles this season. We had some issues with some kids, so we had to change things up before we came. But they pulled it off, and they came through. I have three seniors this year, and it’s going to be hard to let them go. They’re pretty special. It’s good.”

West Iron County coach Mark Martini said he was impressed by St. Ignace’s ability to navigate the course. His team had played George Young every day the previous week, and the greens played differently each time.

“I thought that St. Ignace played really well for the conditions with the spring we’ve had,” Martini said. “My guys, for the most part, freshmen and a sophomore; I thought that was a good finish for us placing second. The scores were really quite good for all the situations that we’ve had all year weather-wise.”

Brown said the course presented unique challenges, given that her team last played it as freshmen, and the team also traveled four and a half hours prior to competing. She listed off the features of the course that made it difficult for her team.

“Just the greens are fast, pin placement, keeping it straight,” Brown said. “It gets a little narrow on a couple holes. Dog legs are a little challenging at times, some water holes.”

Yet Tallaire’s 80 just edged an 82 by Norway’s Brad Schalow and West Iron County’s Noah Thomson. Tallaire said he struggled with his short game throughout the day.

“It was a little rough. I didn’t putt too well, and I didn’t hit as many fairways as I wanted to either,” Tallaire said. “For the most part, the course played well too; it was nice. I’ve played very well before today. I shot three or four rounds under 80. It’s a tough golf course. It plays long, it plays nice, it was difficult. I’ll take an 80 for how I was playing.

“Under a hundred yards, I just couldn’t get anything going. I’d get it up, and then I’d have to chip and two-putt. I three-putted a couple times. Anything under a hundred yards, it was rough.”

Kody Rickley placed fourth for St. Ignace with an 83, and teammate Andy Metz was sixth with an 85.

Trevor Tchida’s 86 paced Hancock, which did not qualify for a team score.

Newberry finished third with a team score of 371. Ethan Edwards carded a team-low 88 to take eighth overall. Crystal Falls Forest Park (384) took fourth and was led by Riley Hendrickson’s 92.

Brown said part of the challenge for teams is coming from smaller courses that they frequently play to compete for a U.P. title at a course not only bigger, but more demanding in various ways. But the team was confident coming into the day, she said.

“We come from a little nine-hole course, so it’s hard, but it’s a great challenge,” Brown said. “We go down and golf in Gaylord a lot, and this year even West Branch. They get a lot of experience playing the tougher courses, so I think that helps us prepare for the UPs.”

Full results will be linked when available.

PHOTOS: (Top) A player tees off during the Upper Peninsula Division 2 Finals on Thursday. (Middle) Norway’s Brad Schalow sends a putt on the way to finishing individual runner-up. (Photos by Adam Niemi.)

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.)