At this time next year, Piller could be one of the faces of the LPGA Tour. At 1 under par, she is a stroke off the lead entering the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club
SAMMAMISH — I’ve got a stock tip for you.
Shares are relatively cheap right now, but they’re poised to blow up.
You want a name? OK, here’s the name: Gerina Piller.
That’s GPR on the Dow and Nasdaq.
Piller is a 31-year-old who has yet to win on the LPGA Tour. She has the name recognition of a Yellow Pages plumber and a nonexistent Q score.
But at 1-under par, Piller also is a stroke off the lead entering the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club. Trust me on this one — you want to buy now.
At this time next year, Piller could be one of the faces of the LPGA Tour, whose purse has grown by more than $20 million since 2011. We might begin to see her galleries grow by scores of spectators week after week.
Why? For a few reasons, actually. But let’s start with the first one.
She’s really good.
For the past five years, Piller has watched her Rolex Ranking go from outside the top 100 to No. 16. She has gone from 68th on the money list in 2011 to 48th in 2012, 39th in 2014 and 20th last season.
She also has notched three top-three finishes and four top-10s in 2016, making this the best season of her career already.
So why are we just hearing about her now? Easy.
She didn’t take up golf till she was 15.
While growing up in New Mexico, Piller wasn’t really inclined to grab her sticks after school got out. She was too busy with her other athletic pursuits: volleyball, baseball, even cheerleading for a year.
She was good at those things, too. And she loved playing with the guys. Gave her great stories, such as this one told at Saturday’s post-round news conference.
“I was a pitcher and a catcher, and nothing brought me more joy than to stand on the mound, warm up — and you could see the little boys talking over there, ‘Oh, home run,’ and I’d kind of egg it on,” said Piller, whose LPGA debut didn’t come until 2010. “I’d just kind of lob it in there, and when they’d get to the plate, I’d fire it in there and send them back to the dugout with their tail between their legs. I loved it. It was so awesome.”
That one got big laughs, which isn’t something every golfer can do. But that’s another thing about Piller.
Piller is as easy to get along with as she is to look at. She could pitch a product every bit as well as she could a Titleist. The only problem: “Winless LPGA golfer ranked 16th in the world” isn’t the most credible description underneath one’s name in a commercial.
But if she starts racking up victories? Look out.
Then again, Piller does have one television advertisement to her name. It was a Barbasol/Pure Silk spot alongside her husband, Martin Piller, who happens to play on the PGA Tour.
The commercial starts with the two telling the camera that they aren’t competitive, then proceeds to show them trying to outdo each other in everything from checkers to seeing who can hold their breath the longest. You get the feeling it wasn’t that much of an exaggeration.
That said, neither Piller has won an event on their respective tours, which makes you wonder how much confidence Gerina will have Sunday.
Probably a lot. You know why?
Piller doesn’t have an LPGA victory to her name, but she was instrumental in the U.S. winning the Solheim Cup last year. After chipping to within 8 feet out of a nasty lie, Piller nailed the putt on the 18th hole to prevent Europe from reaching 14 points and retaining the cup.
That was for her country. Sunday is just for herself. No pressure at all, right?
OK, maybe a little pressure, but Piller has the game and the swag to pull it off. She plans on leaving Sahalee on a high.
So this is your chance to buy in low.