WOBURN, England (Reuters) - World number 15 Gerina Piller was disappointed not to make full use of her extra length off the tee as the American slid to a 73 in the Ricoh Women’s British Open first round on Thursday.
The 31-year-old from New Mexico, who made her Solheim Cup debut in the victory over Europe in Germany last year, is 12th on the list of biggest hitters on this season’s LPGA Tour.
Piller normally booms out drives at 260 yards-plus but there was no need to risk the longest club in the bag in the fourth women’s major championship of the year at Woburn, with the par-72 Marquess Course relatively short at 6,448 yards.
“I didn’t take the driver much today and that’s my bread and butter,” she told Reuters in an interview on a typical British summer’s day when early morning sunshine gave way to driving rain before the blue skies returned at the end of the round.
“I don’t feel like this course really gives me an advantage because I can’t use my driver. I had to take the five-wood and kind of place my tee shots, I just wish it would play a little longer.”
The deep bunkers on the parkland layout at Woburn also proved problematic for Piller who is still chasing the first professional victory of her career.
”A couple of shots off the tee cost me and I got in some of the bunkers,“ she said. ”I was caught up against the lip a few times so that was a bit frustrating.
“I wasn’t hitting it very close to the hole either. I had a couple of long putts that burned the edges... hopefully they will fall in tomorrow.”
Piller has bagged almost $700,000 in prize money this year after a string of top-10 finishes, including a tie for eighth place at this month’s U.S. Open and a share of sixth position at the ANA Inspiration major in March.
”I feel like I’ve had a great season so far and I‘m still looking for that first win,“ she said. ”I’ve got to just keep doing what I‘m doing, being consistent and being patient.
”My goal at the start of the year was to focus on a process-oriented goal, not results. I feel like being consistent is more of a process goal.
“If I hit more fairways, more greens, make more putts, that’s going to produce the results. It’s about focusing on that and not trying to force the win,” said Piller who has qualified to play for the U.S. at next month’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Editing by Ken Ferris