Grillo wins in rookie debut at Silverado
NAPA, Calif. (AP) Given another chance, Emiliano Grillo was determined not to let this one get away.
Seven months after he missed a 3-foot putt that cost him a victory in the Puerto Rico Open and a PGA Tour card, Grillo stood over a 3-foot putt to win the Frys.com Open in a playoff Sunday and was shocked to see it spin out of the left side of the cup.
”It was a very tough time coming back to the tee,” Grillo said.
Moment later, he threw his arms in the air after making a 10-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Kevin Na and win in his rookie debut on the PGA Tour. What really made the 23-year-old Argentine light up was one thought. He’s going to the Masters.
”It means everything,” Grillo said. ”They’ve said the word `Masters’ twice today. You see this?”
He pointed to a smile that was brighter than the silver trophy sitting next to him on the table.
Grillo made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th in regulation for a 3-under 69 to post at 15-under 273. Na got up-and-down from right of the 18th green and made birdie from 6 feet for a 70 to force a playoff.
The Argentine looked like a sure winner until missing the 3-footer, which brought back such dark memories of Puerto Rico that he said he had nightmares for a week.
The next mistake belonged to Na.
From the 18th fairway on the second extra hole, he tried to hit driver off the deck and hooked it behind a tree, which made it difficult for him to keep his third shot on the green. Na made bogey, and Grillo only had to two-putt for the victory.
Na said he has been hitting driver off the tight fairway grass all week without any trouble. He told Golf Channel right after it was over that maybe the darkening sky or the ball slightly above his feet caused him to hook it. Na, who earned $648,000, declined to come to the media room to speak to reporters.
Grillo sure had a debut to remember.
On Saturday, he didn’t realize the group was still on the green at the reachable 17th hole and his tee shot narrowly hit Rory McIlroy on the fly.
”I didn’t want to be the guy who almost hit Rory McIlroy this week,” Grillo said. ”Kind of wanted to have this trophy and everybody know me because I have the trophy, and not because I almost hit him.”
Along with the trophy, he added to what is already known as the ”Class of 2011” – a high school graduating class that includes Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers, Ollie Schniederjans and Daniel Berger, who was voted PGA Tour rookie of the year.
Spieth tweeted out his name and added ”first of many wins! Cool seeing the 11s always playing great.”
One of those `11s nearly joined Grillo in the playoff.
Thomas closed with a 69 and narrowly missed a 30-foot birdie on the final hole to finish one shot out of the playoff. So did Jason Bohn (70) and Tyrone Van Aswegen of South Africa, who birdied who of his last three holes for a 68.
Bohn missed a 15-foot birdie on the last hole, but it was a mistake earlier that really cost him.
He was leading at 15 under and was just inside 50 yards from the hole on the par-5 16th hole when he chunked a wedge. His next wedge slid 8 feet by the hole and he missed the par putt to drop a shot on the second-easiest hole at Silverado on Sunday.
”I was fairly focused on 16 where I just kind of laid the sod over it and chunked it,” Bohn said. ”There’s times when you think that – trust me – when you’re out there, `Oh, don’t chunk this one.’ But this wasn’t one of those times. Kind of rattled me a little bit. To make a bogey from 40 yards short of the green is pretty unacceptable when you’re trying to win a golf tournament.”
But then, just about everyone could look back at lost chances.
Nine players had at least a share of the lead at some point during a final round at Silverado that was up for grabs until the very end. It started with Brendan Steele, who was trying to go wire-to-wire and was still in position until he hit a poor fairway bunker shot on No. 12. Steele made five bogeys over the next six holes and closed with a 76.
Justin Rose was tied for the lead at the turn and was poised to rely on his experience until he missed a 3-foot par putt at No. 12 and dropped two more shots coming for a 72. He wound up three shots out of the playoff.
Van Aswegen birdied two of the last three holes to at least have a chance at a playoff until Grillo and then Na each made birdie. The South African woke up to the room spinning, was taken in an ambulance to the emergency room and treated for dehydration, and narrowly got back to the golf course in time to warm up. He was helped by morning fog that led to a 20-minute delay.
For Grillo, it was his second win in three weeks. He won the Web.com Tour Championship with a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole.
”I can get used to this,” he said. ”Holding two trophies in three weeks, it’s great.”