RIO DE JANEIRO – Gerina Piller has all been a huge watcher of the Olympics.
As an 11-year-old she vividly recalled watching the 1996 U.S. women’s gymnastics team compete in Atlanta; Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu and Dominique Dawes were the big names on the squad that was dubbed the Magnificent Seven.
“I thought that would be pretty awesome to be in the Olympics, but it’s gymnastics. I can’t even touch my toes, so that dream kind of went out the window,” Piller said Wednesday at the Olympic Golf Course after shooting a first-round, 2-under 69.
On Tuesday, during a pre-tournament interview Piller got emotional when she was asked to describe what it would be like to win a gold medal for the U.S.
To this point, Piller is most remembered for helping the U.S. win the Solheim Cup in Germany last September when she converted an 8-foot putt to defeat Caroline Masson. If she had missed, the U.S. would’ve lost. Tears followed.
That event gave Piller more confidence heading into the LPGA this year. Even though she still hasn’t won, she has eight top-10 finishes and an 11th-hour eighth-place tie to sneak into the Olympics for the red, white and blue.
“When golf came back in the Olympics, I thought, it’s like, ‘wow, here is my chance to go to the Olympics,’” Piller said. “I never thought I would be standing here giving an interview about being in the Olympics. It’s just a dream come true.”