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Piller Continues to Shine

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA | It’s been a month since Gerina Piller made the putt of her life to all but clinch the Solheim Cup. But the confidence she gained that week continues to shine.

Because the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship re-pairs after the opening round, Piller will find herself Friday in a spot she has been in a lot lately: face-to-face with the leader. Piller shot an opening 66, which shared the lead with Charley Hull for about a half-hour until KLPGA star Sung Hyun Park shot a course-record 62 at Sky72 Ocean Course.

That puts Piller, Hull and Park out last for the second round. And while it’s silly to talk about winning a tournament on Friday, it’s not too soon to say that if Piller continues to put herself in contention, her long-awaited first victory could be as close as the far-eastern sunrise.

“Having the length, there are a few tee shots where there are some carries that you can take advantage of, and (some holes where you can) cut some corners, and have shorter irons into the par-4s where maybe girls are hitting hybrids or longer irons,” Piller said. “I think having length is always an advantage but especially on this course.”

The leaderboard bears that out. Park leads the KLPGA in driving distance and Hull is one of the longest players in Europe. Lexi Thompson is also T9 at 4 under.

“She’s driving the ball really well,” Juli Inkster said of Piller. “She’s getting confidence in her game. I’ve just been harping on her that she’s a great player and needs to take it to the next level. I think she’s starting to believe it.

“Her short game wasn’t as polished as it is now. She’s worked hard on that. So it’s coming together. She’s hitting wedges into all these greens that we’re hitting 7- and 8-irons. It’s a big difference. But she drives the ball really straight, too.”

“A lot of times I hear that putting is kind of holding me back,” Piller said. “I think I’m a great putter. Hopefully (the putt at the Solheim Cup) will quiet them. It gives me a lot more confidence, obviously, to perform on that type of stage. I played great all week and to make a putt of that much significance was definitely a huge confidence booster.”

Inkster agreed.

“It’s kind of like, you get (labeled) that you’re not a great putter,” she said. “A lot of putting is confidence, and I think she’s got a lot of confidence right now. It’s only the first round but I like the way she’s playing. I like her disposition.”



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