Fort Worth golfer Piller grabs share of 36-hole lead in Colonial debut

A pair of Tarrant County golfers played their way into title contention during today’s suspended second round at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial Country Club.

Martin Piller, a Fort Worth resident making his Colonial debut, tapped home a 2-foot birdie putt on the final hole of his second round to reach 8-under-par and grab a share of the 36-hole lead with Webb Simpson. Those two will be joined by Dallas resident Jordan Spieth, the No. 2 player in the world golf rankings, in the final group of the third round that starts at 1:01 p.m. Golfers will play in threesomes of both the first and 10th tees.

The featured group, including Piller and Spieth, will begin play at No. 1.

“Being in the final group is cool. I’ve never done that before, at least on the PGA Tour,” said Piller, who won two events on last year’s Tour and is seeking his first PGA Tour triumph this week. “That’s where you want to be. That’s better than missing cuts and being at the back of the pack.”

One stroke back of Piller is Ryan Palmer, a Colleyville resident and Colonial member who took a bogey on the final hole of his second round (No. 9) to miss a chance to join the final group. Spieth playfully chided Palmer for his squandered opportunity as Palmer discussed his second round with media members. A smiling Palmer responded: “Maybe I didn’t want to play with you. I’ll miss you.”

As things stand, several players with D-FW connections remain in weekend contention at Colonial. Palmer chipped in for eagle at the first hole during his suspended second round to play his way toward the top of the leader board. Piller overcame a double-bogey at No. 11 by bagging five birdies in the 12 holes he played in today’s suspended second round.

A Texas A&M graduate, Piller said he is prepared for a rowdy afternoon round while grouped with Spieth, who played college golf at Texas. Piller, 30, said he is hoping for support from Aggie Nation and his fellow members at Shady Oaks Country Club as he tours the course with the popular Spieth.

“Dallas-Fort Worth is more of a Texas town than an Aggie town, which is fine,” Piller said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of hoopla out there. But I’ll just keep my head down and try to keep hitting fairways. I’ve been just trying to hit the middle of the greens out here and that’s served me pretty well so far. So I’ll just keep doing that.

“There’s been some (Shady Oaks) members out here and some of my family’s out here. And friends who live in the Metroplex. I’ve got a few people out here cheering for me. I’ll have a little section out there, next to Jordan’s section. Maybe I’ll have more than Webb. Maybe.”

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