IRVING — Playing a tour event close to home can get crazy. You’ve got to get tickets for people, entertain family and friends, and, oh yeah, win the tournament.
Just ask Fort Worth’s Gerina Piller. She’s been juggling her time with family members who made the trek from her native El Paso.
Gerina Piller watches her birdie putt on the 10th green during the third round of the 2016 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout LPGA golf tournament at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)
“Yeah, I left a ton of tickets at will call for friends and family, and it’s been awesome to see faces,” she said Saturday. “People that I met at UTEP, that I played golf with, they’re out here. Family, people that don’t know anything about golf but they just want to support me, so it’s really cool to have them all out here and being loud and obnoxious.”
Through three rounds, Piller has been the hostess with the most-est.
She has shot rounds of 67-65-67 at Las Colinas Country Club to enter Sunday’s final round of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout with a two-stroke lead at 14 under.
Mi Jung Hur, a South Korean who lives in McKinney, and Amy Yang, a South Korean who lives in Carrollton, are two back. And South Koreans Jenny Shin and Sei Young Kim are at 10 under.
Piller, riding the momentum of three straight top-10s, has looked comfortable. She has avoided stress by hitting 74.4 percent of her fairways and all but two greens.
Such remarkable ball-striking should reduce the pressure as she goes for her first victory.
“She’s been in contention a bunch, so it’s no big deal to her,” said Martin Piller, her touring pro husband. “You’ve got to walk through the fire. I can’t tell her anything to do. At the end of the day, it’s fun. It’s where you want to be.”
Although Piller has managed to limit distractions this week, she can’t escape the pressure from within to post her first victory.
In an LPGA Tour career that spans six seasons and 123 events, Piller has piled up 26 top-10 finishes. She has placed second and third multiple times and pocketed $2.4 million in the process.