Gerina Piller may swing from ‘Big Break’ to Olympics

Gerina Piller
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When golf was re-added to the Olympic program, Gerina Piller was world-ranked in the 400s and competing on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” series for aspiring professional golfers.

That was 2009.

Now, Piller is ranked No. 15 and in qualifying position for the Rio Olympics. If she remains in the top 15 come July 11, Piller will be one of three to four U.S. women on the first Olympic golf team since 1904.

Piller, the wife of PGA Tour golfer Martin Piller, has finished 13th or better in eight straight LPGA tournaments since March, in the top 10 in six straight and tied for third at the Kingsmill Championship last weekend. That last finish moved her into the all-important top 15.

She’s playing the best golf of a career previously highlighted by Solheim Cup appearances in 2013 and 2015 and a steady climb in LPGA Tour money lists the last several years.

Piller, who has yet to win on the LPGA Tour, has in the last two months passed American tour winners Morgan PresselJessica KordaBrittany Lincicome and Cristie Kerr in world rankings to move into Olympic qualifying position.

Piller said she didn’t think she had a shot at the Olympics at the start of this year, according to Golf Channel, even though she was within striking distance at No. 29 in the world.

Countrywomen Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis, ranked Nos. 3 and 5, have been Olympic shoo-ins for weeks.

Piller is the next highest-ranked American on a tour otherwise dominated by New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and South Koreans.

U.S. major winners Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie are all but eliminated from Olympic contention, ranked No. 44 and No. 80, respectively.

MORE: Rory McIlroy worried Olympic golf may be done after 2020

Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship
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TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.

LATVIA GETS BRONZE

Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw