The Wallenpaupack golfer kicks off the next campaign of The Times-Tribune’s Athlete of the Week after his win in the Jackman Memorial. Pillar chatted with Marty Myers about winning the season-opening tournament, how Pillar’s dad reacted to the victory and learning how to avoid blowing up on the big stage.

Other sport you play: Basketball

Your dad was a four-time District 12 champion, a U.S. Open qualifier in 1997 and has won numerous regional professional events. But he never won the Jackman. I finally have something I can hold over him. I was the first Pillar to beat him, earlier this year. Now I have the Jackman.

Kyle Pillar cutAll levity aside, what did it mean to him? My mom was excited, my dad was really excited. I think he was more excited than we were, just like last year when we won the league championship. It’s the first in the family and the first in school history, so he was excited. I can tell it meant a lot to him. He left and ended up sending me pictures of him and me. I could tell he was proud. I played in a couple of tournaments this year where I had the lead and didn’t finish well. He was happy to see me finish well and win.

The Anthracite Golf Association’s Tournament of Champions was one of those that didn’t have a happy ending. I shot 38-35 at Fox Hill and 36-56 at Huntsville. The biggest thing was that I played with Sebastian (Cimoch) at Huntsville when it happened. I brought it up (Friday) on the 16th tee. I couldn’t keep it to myself because it was such a big blowup. I kind of got over the little hurdle and told him, ‘I’m not going to blow up.’ I said it in a confident way, not being cocky. He’s one of my good friends and Sebastian felt for me when that happened. He watched the explosion at Huntsville. I now know how to handle it and I wasn’t going to let it happen again.

On the 18th green, your dad was trying to hide behind (6-foot-5 inch assistant coach) Greg Kopich, so you wouldn’t see him. It’s funny. He went over to watch Alex first, and Alex told him, “Don’t watch me. Go watch Kyle, He’s playing out of his mind.” I’m standing over my second shot on No. 13 and I see his little walk coming down toward me and he gets there and asks how I’m doing. In the nicest way possible, I asked, “Could you please go watch Alex?” He understood. He watched from distance. He knows a lot about golf. He can be critical, but in a nice way, so he tries to stay away unless it’s a big event.

Do you have any superstitions on the course? The only thing I have to do before I play is I always have to putt. It’s just one of those things. I credit a lot of my lower scores to my putting. Granted, I hit a lot of wedges close Friday, but I had a lot of big two-putts down the stretch and I was rolling in some one-putts that kept the round going.

Other than family, who was the first person you called? Actually it was a text. I texted (former teammate) Julia Santo because she’s won the Jackman and been Athlete of the Week. I used to call her Mrs. Jackman, Mrs. Athlete of the Week. Now with me winning the Jackman and being Athlete of the Week, it’s funny.