Isaiah Pina had to break his own rule.
The Plainfield South junior typically steers clear of giving his score attention during match play, but at the 18-team Will County Invitational on Sept. 27, Pina couldn’t resist.
“It was definitely on my mind,” he said.
Because he was in the process of setting a school record. Pina became the first golfer in Plainfield South history to shoot an under-par score — a 1-under 71 at Wedgewood — in an 18-hole competition.
“I had three holes left and I knew I was 1-over,” Pina said. “I ended up hitting two birdies on my last three holes.”
Pina finished third in the event behind Joliet co-op’s Trent Wallace and Lockport’s Gehric Hollatz, two of the finest golfers in the area. He recently added second-place finish in the Southwest Prairie Conference tournament.
“After he told me he shot under par this summer, it was only a matter of time before he did it in competition,” South coach Tim Boe said.
When asked if Pina was the best player to come through the school during his 10-year tenure as head coach, Boe said: “Nobody’s more talented.”
That’s lofty praise considering Matt Ward, a 2012 graduate, is playing at Valparaiso.
“Isaiah got to see Matt and his work ethic at practice, and that certainly helped him to see what you need to do to get to that level,” Boe said, who also noted Pina’s maturity as a prime reason for his success.
Part of that stems from his upbringing. Pina was born in California and has lived in Germany and the state of Georgia as his father, a Homeland Security employee, moved the family for work.
“I like to travel and see different places,” Pina said. “I first started with golf lessons in Germany when I was 10 or 11. That’s where I really started learning about the game and practicing more.”
That experience has translated favorably to the prep golf scene. Where some player get flustered at the sight of a new or difficult course, Pina was able to see a wide variety of courses all over the world at a young age.
“The courses (in Germany) are a little more different course to course, more of a different style at each place,” Pina said. “Here, you find more of the courses are similar in style.”
Regardless of score or layout, Pina said he plays purely for the love of the game,
“I love golf,” he said. “Whenever I got on the course, I have a lot of fun. Even if I shoot a score that I may not have wanted, hopefully when it’s over, I can still say I had fun.”
Pina and the Cougars enter regional play Tuesday at Blackberry Oaks.