Gerina’s Very Good Year

Leads Texas Shoot-out into Finale

I have seen Gerina Piller play live on two occasions now, and on both days, got a special feeling about her abilities that I’m not really knowledgeable enough to merit having. However, in my mind’s eye, I also had her all wrong, in particularly in a long stretch at the range in pre-round. Maybe I was standing on a rise behind the ropes, and got an entirely wrong perspective. Maybe I was wearing the wrong glasses. I lose them at such a rate that on some days, I can only find a perscription pair from five or six years ago.

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It is hard to describe how far Piller has worked her way up in the rankings since turning pro about six years ago. Statistically, I don’t see one part or another of her game that’s responsible for the constant rise. Everything seems to have just come along together, and she’s been appearing in the top group with a lot of consistency since her big moment in the 2015 Solheim. There, in Rancho Mirage, she coolly rolled in a medium range putt – some say six feet, some say nine – to defeat Caroline Masson and complete an enormous American comeback. I’ve seen her play since then, but I’ve still gotten her all wrong. Back to the driving range, I actually thought, “This woman is really, really tiny. How does she hit a golf ball like that?”

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Gerina Piller is listed at 5′ 7″ with the respectable driving distance average if 271 yards. OK, so that’s not Lexi or Michelle numbers, but it’s pretty good, and for my purposes, about thirty or thirty five longer than I hit it. More importantly, as I watched on the range, she hit shot after shot after shot at what seemed like the identical destination. I don’t know what club it was, and I was afraid to lean over the ropes to see. I know that there are a number of pros who would look that way from the gallery, with one accurate shot after another, but on this particular day, Piller looked as if she were racking up a new game of pool – really close together. I guess that goes into making around two and a half million in five seasons.

Speaking of numbers, Piller’s driving accuracy is at 75.9, regulation greens hit is 72.04, and putting sits at around 29.6. Her scoring average  is 70,77. All of that is fine, but when I look at the total stats, I see a winner if these categories improve just a hair – and I’m willing to bet that the stats taken from only the last two years would represent that hair, or maybe two hairs. I’ve always had the feeling that while everyone has their ripening point, Piller’s hasn’t come quite yet, and that when it does, there will be a launching of sorts. The Solheim of 2015 to the Texas Shoot-out of 2016 represents an excellent portfolio for such a thing to happen. Not every leading player arrives in quite the same way, and their game doesn’t mature at the same rate. Five years sounds fine for Piller. It’s been a smooth up-ramp since the days on the University of El Paso golf team, and this year seems like a good time.

I enjoy the whole mystique of getting good hunches and vibes around certain players. All in all, I haven’t done too badly through the years in picking out my candidates to reach the top group in the game. I’ve enjoyed watching Gerina Piller’s last months, and am proud to harbor a little tiny “told you so.” Now, if only I could just develop the same gift with the horses, I’d have a very good year,  too – just like Gerina’s.

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