September 21, 2015

How She Hit That: Gerina Piller's Cup-saving up-and-down

At the beginning of the Solheim Cup singles matches Sunday, nobody figured an up-and-down on the 18th hole would even matter. Europe carried a 10-6 lead, and looked like they would cruise to a successful defense.

Then the U.S. team went out and turned the board red, cleaning up the first five matches of the day to pull within one. But after Europe picked up three and half points late, all it needed was a halve from Caroline Masson in her match with Gerina Piller to get to 14 and ensure a tie -- which would leave the Cup with the hosts.

Piller was 1 up going into the 18th hole, but she missed her approach shot right, into some deep grass. Masson sat 10 feet from the Cup, looking at a birdie try. From an awkward stance, Piller caught her pitch cleanly and rolled a shot past the cup to nine feet. She watched as Masson missed her birdie, then rolled her own Cup-saving par right into the heart to preserve the American run.

"Instructors spend most of their time talking specifically about technique -- and technique is important -- but a situation like this one shows how important it is to be able to forget about technique and go out and play the golf course," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville. "Gerina Piller made sure she made contact with the ball and got it onto the green so she could have a putt at it."

Jacobs says many average players in a similar situation would try to hit a hero shot -- adding risk and the potential for a card-crushing score. "You could try to hit that shot with a lot more clubhead speed in an effort to pitch it high and stop it right by the green," says Jacobs. "But under the best conditions, that's a hard shot to execute, and you'll possibly swing right under it or blade it across the green. She did a great job managing the pressure of the moment and picking the shot with the best combination of safety and potential for getting up and down. And then she did it. Well done."

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