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 Pressel, Jessica Korda, Brittany 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.