FORT WORTH, Texas – A disjointed second round didn’t prevent local resident Martin Piller from climbing up the leaderboard at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
After a nearly six-hour weather delay, Piller didn’t begin his second round until 6:50 p.m. local time Friday. That left him with 12 holes to complete when play resumed early Saturday morning, but he made the most of the calm conditions by playing the stretch in 3 under.
That included a birdie on No. 18 after Piller stuffed his wedge from 123 yards inside 2 feet, a shot that helped him close out a second consecutive round of 66. At 8 under, he shares the lead at the halfway point with Webb Simpson and will join Simpson and Jordan Spieth in Saturday’s final group.
“I actually saw that I probably needed a birdie to get into that final group, and I really wanted to because I’ve never done that before,” Piller said. “I was trying to get one more coming in just to get in that final group because I think that would be really cool.”
Piller went to school at Texas A&M and is a Fort Worth resident. His best finish of the season came at the Valero Texas Open, where he tied for fourth, and this week he is relishing the spoils of a de facto home game.
“It’s easy to not have to pack or not have to worry about a rental car at the end of the week and just go home and sleep in your own bed,” he said. “I can just cook and do whatever I need just like I’d normally be at home.”
Piller, whose wife Gerina Piller has been a perennial contender this year on the LPGA, hopes to build on his performance last month in San Antonio as he eyes a potential breakthrough victory in front of hometown crowds.
“I got a lot of confidence from Valero for sure, and then I played well at Quail Hollow the first three days,” he said. “You’ve got to play well to be in contention out here. I mean, these guys are really good, and you can’t be any geek off the streets.”
In addition to Spieth, the group one shot behind Piller and Simpson includes overnight leader Bryce Molder, Kyle Reifers and Colonial Country Club member Ryan Palmer. Patrick Reed and David Hearn both sit at 6 under through 36 holes, two shots off the pace.