ST. LEON-ROT, Germany – Six years ago, Juli Inkster watched Michelle Wie rise to the occasion under pressure at the Solheim Cup and predicted Wie would win her first LPGA title before the year was out.
Wie did just that, taking the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
After watching Gerina Piller bury the most pressure-packed putt in the United States’ dramatic comeback Sunday in Germany, there are a lot of reasons to believe Piller’s on her way to breaking through for her first LPGA title.
Piller’s putt Sunday might not be remembered for clinching the American victory, but it was the most important in the comeback. If Piller doesn’t make a fabulous chip out of a thick-and-gnarly lie in greenside rough and then bury an 8-foot putt to defeat Caroline Masson, 1 up, the Americans wouldn’t have won Sunday. The Europeans were sitting on 13½ points at the time and needed only a half point to regain the cup. If Piller missed that putt, the Euros would have gained that precious half point.
Piller, 30, knew exactly what the putt meant as she stood over it. She explained it in amusing fashion afterward.
“I looked up and on the scoreboard the only thing my eyes focused on was 13 ½,” Piller said. “I'm like, ‘13 and a half? Like, I've got to make this. That’s me.’ That’s like that movie, you know, ‘Throw it to Johnny. Wait, I'm Johnny.’ This is do or die. This is what you practice for. This is like a once in a lifetime deal, here.”
Piller celebrated in a long hug with her husband, fellow professional golfer Martin Piller.
“I just can’t believe I made that putt,” Piller said.
Inkster told Piller she needs to believe she’ll make a lot more clutch putts. Piller won’t find herself under more pressure in a major than she was in that Solheim Cup moment, and she thrived.