PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Gerina Piller found inspiration in her yardage book throughout her improbable charge up the leaderboard Sunday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
She found it in her husband’s handwriting.
“I actually had my husband write a bunch of bible verses in my yardage book,” Piller said. “I just kept reminding myself there are bigger things out there. Having my husband here, I just can’t find words to explain it.”
Piller broke into tears outside the scoring hut recounting how she nearly shocked the world of women’s golf with her against-the-odds run at winning at Locust Hill.
Piller, formerly Gerina Mendoza, is a UTEP graduate married to Martin Piller, a two-time Nationwide Tour winner who played the PGA Tour last year. Gerina started Sunday 189th in the Rolex World Rankings as a second-year LPGA pro with one top-10 finish in 21 career starts. Before this week, her major championship record read like this: MC, MC, MC.
Nobody expected Piller to make this run, not even her husband.
“Did I see her winning the tournament coming here? Probably not,” said Martin, who followed Gerina the entire round. “I did see her playing well.”
When Gerina stiffed a wedge to 4 feet at the 16th and rolled in the birdie putt, her name shot to the top of the leaderboard. She was tied for the lead.
“I kind of knew I had a chance when I made that birdie,” Piller said. “I told myself to just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Piller’s chances derailed at the 17th when she pulled her tee shot into the tree line. She looked like she might still rebound and save par, but from behind the green, she swiped a wedge under her ball, leaving it short of the green. She made double bogey.
Piller closed with a 68 at treacherous Locust Hill, equaling her best LPGA round, and finished tied for seventh, her best finish on the tour.
Bolstered by her bible verses, Piller said when she felt challenged, she found particular strength in reading Matthew 14:30 in Martin’s handwriting. It is within the story of the apostle Peter trying to walk on water, but sinking when his faith waned.
Obliging a reporter’s request, Piller read the scripture in question:
“When Peter saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, and he cried out, ‘Lord save me!’ Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”
Piller said her faith inspired and sustained her improbable run.