Mendoza Piller returns to Roswell for Sun Country Classic

Courtesy photo — Gerina Mondoza Piller will be back in Roswell this weekend to compete in the Rotary Desert Sun Golf Classic.

Karen Boehler
CCSR writer/editor

It’s been a while since the Rotary Desert Sun Golf Classic has included women in the competition, but this year one woman will challenge the pros, hoping to bring home the title.

Gerina Mendoza Piller is back in Roswell during a break on the LPGA tour. The Goddard High grad has spent three years as a pro on the LPGA Futures Tour, and after finishing fifth overall on the money list last year, earned full LPGA status this year.

Desert Sun Motors has sponsored Pillers’ car the last few year, so with some free time on the schedule, she asked if she could do something for her home town.

Gerina Meddoza Piller

“Every year before this year I’ve obviously been on the road and busy with the Futures Tour and it just fell on a good week that we didn’t have a tournament in the LPGA,” she said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to come back and support my sponsor and just kind of give back to Roswell and just kind of play in front of a home crowd, which would be good.”

Piller said he offered to do whatever sponsor Travis Hicks asked, but when he asked her if she wanted to play, she jumped at the chance.

“I’m excited. I can’t wait,” she said.

Piller will be playing in the professional division, competing against mostly course pros from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and California. And while those pros will all be male, Piller likes her chances.

“I played Spring River plenty of times and my game feels good,” she said. “It’s not a long course. I’m used to playing at sea level with longer courses and humidity. It’ll take me some adjusting to get back to the elevation and dry air, but as far as competing, I definitely think I’m able to compete and I’ll give it a run.”

Playing for the Rockets from 2000-2003, Piller won four straight team titles, and took the individual title her senior year. She won four tournaments her senior year with UTEP, and
was also the 2007 Conference USA Individual champion, Player of the Year and the UTEP Female Athlete of the Year.

She’s competed in six LPGA tournaments this year, placing in the money in four.

Besides playing golf, Piller married touring pro Martin Piller in Texas earlier this year, but he’s in Jackson, Miss., competing in the Viking Classic and can’t make it to Roswell.

“He’s actually kind of bummed. He loves New Mexico and coming to Roswell, but maybe next time,” she said.

Piller will be working out on the course before the tournament, “just to kind of knock the rust off. Other than that, just kind of hanging out with the family and happy to be home.”

And hoping for a good crowd of fans on the course to cheer her on.

“It’s good to have those fans in the gallery knowing they’re for you and rooting you on,” she said.

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