Emiliano Grillo overcomes 18th hole tribulations to end winless drought at 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge.
It had been a long wait for Emiliano Grillo, but finally, after nearly an eight-year winless drought on tour, the Argentine is a champion once again.
Grillo, a 23-year-old rookie out on tour at the time, earned his first professional win on the PGA Tour back in 2015 at what was then known as the FRYS.COM Open. Never would the talented Argentinian have envisioned the wait for a second PGA triumph lasting this long. 2,779 days to be precise.
Emiliano, who is 30 now, has had numerous close calls over the years, but the second victory out on tour continued to elude him. 2023 had been a similar tale for Grillo coming into this year’s event at Colonial.
In thirteen starts he had missed the cut in five of them and finished inside of the top 10 in two of them. The two top ten finishes on his resume this year came in back-to-back starts at recent events, the RBC Heritage (T7) and the Mexico Open at Vidanta (T5).
Following rounds of 67-65 and 72 through the first three rounds of this year’s Charles Schwab Challenge, Grillo had put himself in a good position to contend heading into Sunday.
Still, the Argentinian would require some help along the way as Emiliano found himself four shots back of co-leaders Harry Hall and Adam Schenk, and three shots adrift of Harris English heading into the final round at Colonial.
A fast start on the front nine on Sunday which included four birdies across his opening seven holes allowed Grillo to maintain momentum and remain in contention heading into the back half.
Meanwhile, the trio at and near the top of the board going into Sunday’s final round failed to ever create any significant distance between themselves and the rest of the chasing pack. English faded instantly after suffering four dropped shots across his front nine and while Harry Hall reached -12 early in his round, he quickly gave both strokes back before making the turn in 35.
Adam Schenk, who began the day at 10-under following rounds of 66-67 and 67 played his opening nine in 36, recording no birdies and dropping a shot along the way.
The window of opportunity was left open for Grillo and he took full advantage until the last; when he almost threw it all away.
Emiliano Grillo overcomes 18th hole disaster.
An additional two birdies on the back nine saw Grillo take the lead down the last, but an errant drive off the 18th tee nearly saw his dreams of winning for a 2nd time dashed.
Bizarrely, Grillo hooked his errant drive directly into a stream of water and had to wait around 5 minutes before the ball eventually came to a stop. Moments later he had to take a penalty drop.
The Argentinian did well to find the fairway with his third, but his fourth rolled to the back edge of the green on the Par 4 closing hole at Colonial and Grillo would miss the putt for a nearly very costly double.
Hall also found trouble down 18 and missed the chance to join a playoff at -8 alongside both Grillo and Adam Schenk, after Schenk had failed to capitalize on a lengthy birdie putt of his own for the win.
In the playoff, Grillo and Schenk both had lengthy birdie putts for a potential win on 18 but neither were able to take advantage. That sent the playoff to a second sudden-death hole, the Par 3, 16th, where Emiliano benefited from a fortunate bounce after his tee shot kicked right of the green before rolling back on and to within five feet of the hole for the birdie and win.
Schenk sent his approach shot over the green and failed to get up and down for Birdie. Soon after, Grillo quickly converted the birdie putt to earn his second PGA win.
It was a long time coming for a player as talented as Emiliano Grillo, who despite the lengthy wait to re-enter the winner’s circle, said he wouldn’t change any of it.
"“It’s been tough, but it’s worth every second. People ask me if I would have done something different, obviously looking back, I wouldn’t. This is just worth it.”"
Emiliano Grillo has worked hard and persevered even when times have been tough and it was that type of resilience that finally paid off for him on Sunday in Fort Worth, Texas. He could have hung his head after letting the win potentially slip out of his hands on 18, but he didn’t, he pressed on, and that is something we can all admire.