LPGA players Gerina Piller, in the pink shorts, and Sandra Gal, to her right, walk with other members of their party at Lancaster Country Club on Tuesday. The two toured the area and made the most of their exploratory round.

Liking the links: LPGA duo enjoys a U.S. Women’s Open preview round at Lancaster Country Club

Posted: July 29, 2014 5:23 pm

LPGA tour players Sandra Gal and Gerina Piller visited the Lancaster Country Club on Tuesday morning for a round of golf on the links that will host the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open next summer.

Gal is presently ranked 37th in earnings on the tour this season with $198,940, while Piller is 28th with $314,143. Gal is tied for 43rd in the Rolex Player of the Year points standings while Piller is tied for 28th.

The two 29-year-old pros were joined in a foursome with USGA vice president and executive committee member Dan Burton of Lititz and Lancaster County amateur Allison Weaver of Lititz, who plays out of Overlook.

To add to the fun, all four golfers were miked up for the round, so that those following them along the course could hear what they were talking about.

“I think they should have that more in golf,” Piller said of the microphones. “Not necessarily mike the golfers up, but rather to have mikes everywhere to pick up on what we are conversing about with our caddies or what our strategy is. I think that would be fun. Same goes for football, hockey and baseball. Just to hear what is going on adds to it.”

No scorecards were kept and there were quite a few pickups on the green, but it was a golden opportunity for those fortunate enough to be in attendance to see some high-level golfing.

“They are such great players and such great ambassadors for the game of golf,” Burton said. “They were a lot of fun to play with. It was really special.”

Both LPGA golfers, who also got to tour a bit of the area, liked the 114-year-old country club and the classic course design. Piller said she liked the par-4 first hole best because she birdied it to open the round.

“I think they did a phenomenal job in picking this course and this venue,” said Piller, who is still looking for her first LPGA win in her fourth year on the tour. “It will be very tough to golf. I am looking forward to coming back next year.”

The Cologne, Germany-born Gal agreed. She picked the par-3 12th hole as her favorite, where the swirling winds and water can come into play.

“I really liked the variety of shots you have to hit,” said Gal, who won the 2011 Kia Classic and is in her sixth year on the tour. “Every hole is different. It does not get boring out there. I think it will be really challenging, but fair.”

The William S. Flynn-designed course at Lancaster Country Club offers a mix of long par-4 and par-5 holes and some short par-3 holes that can challenge a golfer’s accuracy.  Flynn was one of the influential designers in the golden age of golf course architecture, when the number of courses in the country grew from fewer than 750 in 1916 to nearly 6,000 by 1930.

“I think it could definitely favor a long hitter,” Piller said. “There are a lot of carries and uphills and downhills. On the uphills, it will be an advantage to fly it. If you can carry it a long way, that will be an advantage. It is playing pretty soft right now, but if it gets firm and fast during tournament week, that will favor the long hitters.”

Piller, who is 21st in scoring average this season at 71.167 through 17 events, said that now having played the course is not a real advantage looking ahead.

“It gives me a little bit of knowledge having seen it and knowing what to expect,” said Piller, a Roswell, New Mexico, native who now lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Martin, a former PGA golfer. “But it isn’t going to play the same way next year the way it is playing now. It’s not like I will be making a lot of notes about what I hit when.”

Weaver, who played collegiate golf at Murray State University and locally at Warwick, was nervous at first but settled in to play a solid round.

“It was a lot of fun,” Weaver said. “Getting to watch them play up close was a great experience. I took notice at how all areas of their game were just so good. They drive so well. It was an eye-opener.”

Piller had plenty of kind words for Weaver.

“I’m sure she was a little nervous,” Piller said. “But she handled it well. It was a great opportunity for her to see our caliber of play, where she is at and what she can work on. It was a pleasure meeting her. She’s a really good player.”