Gerina Piller: Symetra to LPGA Tour

Hear how Gerina Piller made the final steps from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA Tour.


I graduated in December of '07, so I had to take an extra semester. And during that semester, I went to Q-school. And at the time, they had one Q-School-- or no, sorry, they had two Q-Schools-- one for the Symetra Tour and one for the LPGA. I did the LPGA one, didn't make it.

So you went straight to the top of the-- tried to go straight for the LPGA?

I did, yeah.

And what do they graduate there, like 25 spots or something like that? Or 50 spots?

Yeah, 25.


I tried-- you could try twice, one at Dinah Shore and then the other one in Tampa. Didn't make it. And so now I was going, OK, I'm going to go to the Symetra Tour Q-School. Made it all the way--

Symetra Tour is basically like the minor leagues, right?

Yes, Triple-A, yeah.

It's still there. I mean, for people that don't know, the Symetra Tour is an organized tour that runs underneath the LPGA for up and coming or--

Equivalent to the for the men.


So I got my Symetra Tour card at Q-School. And so in 2008--

The next year.

I had full status to play on the Symetra Tour. Played the full year. Had a pretty decent season. I ended up, I think, finishing 15th on the money list. And that year was the year that I did the Big Break. And then finishing 15th got me exempt to final stage of Q-School that year. So I went, no good.

No good again?

Went back on the Symetra Tour and--

So what-- before you finish that-- so Symetra Tour for a year. Were you good enough in there? I mean, you said you finished 15th, but did you see girls that graduated?


All the time, right?

Yeah, I was nowhere close to being good enough.

OK. So that's-- but that's fair.

I wanted to be, but the reality wasn't-- yeah.

I know. Yeah, so when I came on tour, and I was the best college player when I came out of school, but when I walked on tour, I had no chance of winning. There was zero. Like, kids now, they think they come on, they're going to win. Jack Nicklaus was still on tour when I was there. I saw them like, there's no way. I can't even hardly walk around.


You know?

I just-- I couldn't-- yeah, I was the same way with Symetra Tour. So I went on another year.

You went a whole nother year on Symetra?

I did. And I think I finished around the same.


Or so. And went to Q-School.

That got you in again.

Got me in again. And I think I-- I'll never forget this-- first hole, hit a drive. Second shot to, like, 10 feet. Four putt. And I'm like--

In Q-School?

This is not how I envisioned the start of Q-School. I just hit two great shots, and here I am.

Four putted.

Yes. Bogeyed the next hole.

Three over through two.

Bogeyed the next hole.

Four over.

Go to the next hole, and it's a dogleg right. And you have to hit, like, a 3-wood past the corner so you could hit across. And sky it, barely make the fairway. Finally, I was just like-- I walked to the fairway and I just knelt down and I just lost it.

Started crying.

I just started praying, I'm like, God, I don't know what you have in store here, but I need some help.

I need some help.

And ended up getting conditional status on the LPGA Tour, which-

So you played your way, and the end of that event, you weren't in the top ones that graduated, but you were in the next phase that got you on some starts?

I had very limited conditional status. And so I had a decision to make the next year, did I want to try to Monday qualify? Because at the time, there was a rule that you can only Monday qualify for the LPGA if you're a member of the tour. So you--

And you had conditional.

And I had conditional status.

So you could do that, or you could follow the tour and try to Monday each week, or you could go back to Symetra and play the whole year again.

Yes. And I had seen some of my friends try to do both. And--

It's not easy.

It just didn't work out very well. So I was like, I'm just going to just play Symetra Tour.

So you decided against the LPGA at that point. You're just going to go back and do it again.

Yes. And it's like--

So this is your third year on Symetra.

This is my third year. Did great. Finished, I think, fifth on the money list. And they only took five, Top 5 on the money list went to the LPGA.

So you advanced-- you got to bypass the--

I did.


Yeah. Yeah. And at this time, I had just met Martin before I started that last season of Symetra that I had played.

And he was doing similar.

He was-- yes. He was Nationwide,


So we were kind of doing-- kind of going through the same--


Same type of stuff. And we were at Q-School at the same time. He was down in West Palm. I was in Daytona Beach. So--

Big stress. That's big stress. Q-School is big stress.

Oh, yeah.

Boom, you did it, bypassed Q-School.

Yeah. I mean, you-- and then you kind of start all over again.

Start again.

You get to college, and you're wondering, like--

What year was that, '10?

2011 is when I started my LPGA season, my first year on the tour.

So that was only five years ago, six years ago.


This would be your--

This is my seventh season.

Seventh year.

Yeah, so, again, started kind of all over. Like, am I good enough? You don't really know how you measure up to the other girls. The courses are harder. They're longer. The competition's better. And just kind of-- I wouldn't say I went out there thinking that I was going to win, like you said. I was like, let's make a cut.


That's good.

I want to see some money.