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Sophomore Joel Pietila poses with his first place trophy. When he won first place at the Motor City Invite, Pietila became the first Charger golfer to win a tournament. (Photo: Mike Harner / Courtesy)

After 36 holes, sophomore Joel Pietila stood tied for first place with Mason Motte, a sophomore from Saginaw Valley State. They both shot a two-over 146.

When Pietila entered a playoff versus Motte to determine the true tournament winner, he Pietila birdied the first playoff hole to win the Motor City Invite. With his win, Pietila became the first individual on the Hillsdale College golf team to place first in a tournament since the team’s reinstatement in 2014.

“It feels like a team victory,” Pietila said.

Pietila was in a similar situation just three weeks ago at the Kyle Ryman Memorial Tournament. At that tournament, he tied for first place but lost in the playoff.

“Being in that position twice in three weeks was awesome,” Pietila said. “I felt completely comfortable in this playoff, and that was something I couldn’t say in the playoff a few weeks ago.”

The team played in the Motor City Invite on Oct. 16-17, at TPC Michigan in Dearborn, Michigan. The Chargers sent an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ team to the invite, so all 12 golfers were able to play together in the last tournament of the year. The ‘A’ team shot 612 and placed fourth overall among 15 teams competing. The ‘B’ team placed ninth overall and shot 634.

Junior Logan Kauffman finished well in the tournament. He tied for seventh as an individual, shooting 78 on Sunday and 72 on Monday, for a 150 overall. Sophomore Liam Purslowe also had a noteworthy finish, tying for 14th as an individual with a 152.

The week before, Purslowe had his best finish as a college golfer.

At the Midwest Regional in St. Louis, Missouri, Purslowe placed fifth and shot 145.

Purslowe was four strokes under par going into the 34th hole of the tournament, but he finished with a bogey and two double bogeys. If he had finished with pars, he would have tied for first place.

“That was disappointing, but the more I put myself in positions to win, the better off I’ll be in the future,” Purslowe said.

The Midwest Regional was on Oct. 10-11 at the Fox Run Golf Club. The Chargers placed fourth out of 26 teams.

“Fourth place is the best finish Hillsdale has had in a regional tournament,” head coach Nathan Gilchrist said. “I still don’t believe our team has played up to its potential yet. We have had individual players play well on different occasions but collectively as a team during a tournament, we still have yet to play great.”

Pietila and freshman George Roberts shot a 151 in St. Louis and tied for 17th place. Freshman Sutton Dunwoodie scored a 159 and sophomore Andrew Grayson shot a 160.

Purslowe said the fourth place finishes in the last two tournaments of the year are the result of the team’s year of hard work.

Gilchrist said he’s pleased with this season’s results.

“They are getting better each week and as a whole the fall was pretty good,” Gilchrist said. “They still need to continue to get tougher mentally, and that is something we will work very hard at over the winter.”

Although the season is over, Pietila said he’s happy to get his first win at Hillsdale College, and he hopes it will keep the team motivated going into next season.

“I’m incredibly blessed to play and have the talent that God has given me,” Pietila said.