Emiliano Grillo ends nearly 8-year winless drought in playoff win at 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge (2024)

adam schupak

·4 min read

Seven years, seven months and 10 days.

That’s how long Emiliano Grillo waited to secure his second PGA Tour victory.

“They say the second is harder than the first and it definitely was,” Grillo said.

The 30-year-old Argentine overcame a double bogey at the 72nd hole to shoot 2-under 68 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday and defeat Adam Schenk in a two-hole playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Grillo’s 9-iron at the second playoff hole headed right but landed on the fringe, just to the left of a greenside bunker and kicked on the green, stopping 5 feet from the hole and he took advantage of his fortuitous bounce by sinking the winning putt.

Grillo erased a four-stroke deficit entering the final round, carding six birdies in regulation and pumping his fist as his last of the bunch, a 20-foot birdie putt at 16 during regulation, dropped in to take the lead. But there would still be plenty of drama to come.

Grillo, who left Argentina at age 16 to study and hone his golf skills at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, notched his first win in near record time. After triumphing at the 2015 Korn Ferry Tour Championship in October, Grillo was victorious in his next start, two weeks later, at the PGA Tour’s season-opening Frys.com Open, to become the sixth player from Argentina to win on the PGA Tour and the first player to win in his first start as an official Tour member since Russell Henley at the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii. But that turned out to be the last trip to the winner’s circle for Grillo until he slipped into the traditional tartan-plaid jacket awarded to the Charles Schwab Challenge winner.

Grillo made four birdies on the front nine – all from inside 10 feet – and then his putter, which has been the biggest weakness in his game, warmed up. Grillo entered the week ranked No. 134 in Strokes Gained: Putting, but he ranked second this week in that category. He canned a 17-foot birdie putt at 12 and the 20-footer at 16.

But winning is never easy and Grillo squandered a two-stroke lead coming home. His tee shot at 18 headed wide right of the target and he had to take a penalty stroke when his ball landed in an aqueduct. The strength of the stream sent it some 50 yards back towards the tee, but he was allowed to drop where it originally entered the water and chose to place it on the cart path. The damage was done as he slipped back into a tie, signing for a 72-hole total of 8-under 272.

Bizarre scenes on 18.

Leader Emiliano Grillo’s tee shot finds a water stream and takes five minutes to eventually come to a stop.

Grillo takes a penalty stroke and plays where the golf ball entered the stream @CSChallengeFW. pic.twitter.com/cc3XibhSwR

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 28, 2023

Harry Hall, a 25-year-old rookie, had led since opening with a tournament-best 8-under 62, and built an early three-stroke lead at 12 under with birdies at his first two holes. But he didn’t make another birdie and his fifth bogey of the day, this one at the last after he drove left into the water, knocked him out of the playoff. He closed with a final-round 73 and T-3 finish, which marked his best result to date. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler aced the eighth hole, shot 67 but finished tied with Hall, a stroke shy of the playoff.

Schenk, 31, who grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, on a 1,500-acre sod and grain farm, didn’t make a birdie until the 16th hole of his final round and signed for 2-over 72, but it was enough to join Grillo in a playoff in search of his first Tour title. Schenk had birdie putts to win at 18 in regulation and the playoff but couldn’t get either of them to drop.

“He deserved to win, in my opinion, just because he doubled the last hole. How many times out of a hundred is he going to do that? One maybe? Two? That would have left a pretty sour taste in his mouth to do that and lose,” Schenk said. “Then for him to hit the shot on 16, he probably deserved it a little more than I did.”

Schenk’s tee shot at the par-3 16th flew the green and he made a brilliant chip to 3 feet, but Grillo grabbed hold of victory by sinking the winning putt.

“It made everything worth it. The playing, all the hours practicing, the effort from my family. It makes you think when you started playing all the emotions come through your head,” Grillo said. “It’s been tough, but it’s worth every second.”

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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

Emiliano Grillo ends nearly 8-year winless drought in playoff win at 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge (2024)
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