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Olympic golf: Gerina Piller and husband Martin juggle golf careers

By Margaret Moffett
Published on

GREENSBORO -- Martin and Gerina Piller aren't that different from you and your spouse.

Better looking, probably. Definitely.

But otherwise, you can relate. They both work. A lot. They plot out their schedules on color-coded calendars, always looking ahead to those vacation weeks. They think about having kids, and how they might balance family time with successful, demanding careers.

Their work-a-day lives as the only married PGA/LPGA couple come with more drama than yours, though.

Martin Piller, 30, is in Greensboro. He'll tee off at 9 a.m. today in the second round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club. On Thursday, he shot a 1-over-par and is tied for 102nd place. If he doesn't play better today -- if he doesn't make the cut for Saturday -- then he'll lose his PGA Tour Card, which will make it much harder to do his job.

RELATED: Women's Olympic golf leaderboard | Wyndham Championship leaderboard

Gerina Piller, 31, is in Brazil. She's representing the United States in the women's golf competition. On Thursday, she finished tied for 11th place and plays again at 6:30 a.m. today .

She can't watch him play. He can't watch her play.

That's par for the course for the Pillers. No, maybe not this particular situation, with this much pressure on both of them.

But Martin Piller said picking Greensboro over Rio was "a no-brainer."

"I would have loved to be there, but I've watched her play a lot of golf," said Piller, who lives with his wife in Fort Worth, Texas, between tournaments.

"It would have been awesome, but unfortunately I have some stuff to take care of here."

That "stuff" involves concentrating on his game, and not hers.

Easier said than done. As he waited at the first tee for his round to start Thursday afternoon, he glanced at his phone, then typed on it for a few seconds before slipping it into his golf bag.

Was he checking for an update on how Gerina's day was going? Or perhaps responding to her good-luck message from Brazil?

Suffice to say they were on each other's minds.

"I know I would love to be there supporting him," Gerina Piller told ESPN this week. "I know he would love to be here.

"I think I'm more concerned with me not being there for him because it's a big week for him, and he's had his card before and hasn't kept it. I'm just praying that he has a good week and he's just content with whatever comes at him and he just plays to his best ability."

The couple met about six years ago through some NASCAR pit crew guys they both knew through a Bible study group, Piller said earlier this week.

Gerina was a rookie when they married in 2011, three years into Martin's professional career.

They knew what they were getting into, he said. The color-coded calendars marking PGA and LPGA tournaments, the long periods apart, the realistic expectations they have to make the relationship work.

He thought about going to Rio with her, or hoped it would be possible. If he'd fared better at tournaments earlier this year, he'd have more points in the FedExCup standings and a better shot at making the playoffs.

"The only way I would go down there is if I had somehow secured my card," he said.

But he didn't. So bye-bye Brazil, hello Greensboro.

With his tour card in jeopardy and her performance peaking, neither can be sure what comes next.

They've talked about having kids. But when? Childbirth would take her off the tour for a bit, just as she's "playing the best golf of her life," he said.

His philosophy on that is the same as it has been throughout their marriage: There's time enough for that. Maximize the golf.

"You don't know how long you get to play golf in your life," he said.

"My thinking is, 'Go play golf. We can deal with that later.'"

This article was written by Margaret Moffett from News & Record, Greensboro, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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