Emiliano Grillo overcomes floating ball on 72nd hole to win in playoff at Colonial
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Makes birdie on second playoff hole at Charles Schwab Challenge to defeat Adam Schenk
Written by Kevin Robbins @kdanielrobbins
FORT WORTH, Texas — Until the last hole, the game of golf spared no one Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Harry Hall, the PGA TOUR rookie who led for most of the tournament, had a chance on the 72nd. He tugged his drive just enough.
His ball tumbled into the famous pond left of the fairway and green at the 435-yard par-4. An eviscerating bogey there gave him a 3-over 73, a finish at 7-under, and an immediate dismissal from a playoff with, at the time, Emiliano Grillo, who’d lost his own tussle with the vagaries of the sport just moments before.
“I did a few things stupid today,” said Hall, a 25-year-old Englishman. (He did a few things smartly, for the record. Hall opened with 62-66 in his first start at Colonial. He was the best putter in the field through 72 holes, at nearly eight shots in Strokes Gained: Putting.)
Adam Schenk, who played in Sunday's final group alongside Hall, suffered his own personal debacle, at the worst time possible, on a course with greens approaching U.S. Open firmness.
Schenk made the playoff at 8-under 272 with a quiet round of 72 and a par at the last. He and Grillo matched pars on the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th. At the second, the 185-yard par-3 16th, Schenk watched Grillo cozy a bold tee shot to 4 feet. Schenk then knew what he had to do.
Schenk had birdied the hole in regulation with an 8-iron. He thought the wind — the strongest of the week on Sunday — was about the same in sudden death.
He swung the same club.
“It took off with no spin and just went a mile,” Schenk said.
The 8-iron traveled 197 yards, sailing the green. A sublime chip put him just inside the length of Grillo’s putt.
He never had the opportunity to hole it, which brings us to Grillo, the 2023 champion.
Emiliano Grillo birdies second playoff hole to win at Charles Schwab
The two-time TOUR winner from Argentina held a two-shot lead at 10-under when he settled into his stance on the 18th tee. He swiped his drive, resulting in a calamitous bounce into the concrete ditch right of the fairway. Running water carried his ball nearly all the way back to the tee, the television cameras documenting its entire journey.
Grillo accepted a penalty stroke and took a drop, 189 yards from the hole. Four strokes later, he finished with a double-bogey in his round of 68.
After the tie with Schenk on the first hole of the playoff, Grillo bounced his tee shot on the 16th on the brow of a greenside bunker, inches from the sand. Anything could’ve happened. A little more to the right and the ball is plugged. A little more to the left and it never catches the grade. A little short and it never reaches the hole.
But it was perfect. The kick from the bunker edge put his ball close enough that Schenk, hitting second, could see how short it was.
“I took the entire slope and got close,” Grillo said. His stroke on the short putt to win was as sure as they come.
“Obviously it’s great,” said Grillo, who last won — also in a playoff — in at the Fortinet Championship in October 2015.
“It made everything worth it,” he said. “The playing, all the hours practicing, the effort from my family.”
Grillo became the second Argentinian to win at Colonial since Roberto De Vicenzo shot 4-over 284 in 1957, winning $5,000.
Floating ball on No. 18 leads to Emiliano Grillo's closing double bogey at Charles Schwab
“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.”
He won $1.566 million, increasing his career earnings to $16.8 million. He banked 500 FedExCup points, boosting him from 57th to 18th for the season.
His perseverance came on a Colonial Country Club course that firmed by the day, especially on the greens. Players talked all weekend about the adjustments they had to make to compensate for the various hops, skips and jumps they expected on approach shots.
“It was probably the hardest round of golf I’ve played,” Schenk said. “The course is hard for everybody, but it was pushed to the limits.”
His and Grillo’s four-round score of 272 was the highest at Colonial since Olin Browne won in 1999.
With his career-best finish — a tie for third with Scottie Scheffler, who shot 67 with an ace of the par-3 eighth — Hall tried hard to find encouragement. But a weekend of 72-73, even on a course that kept getting more sinister, left Hall with lots to think about and little to say. He said he was looking forward to going home to Las Vegas.
“I just looked,” Hall said, searching for the bright side.
“I've got 162 points in the FedExCup after this week. If you'd given that to me at the start of the week, I would have taken it.”
He added this: “I learned a lot, and you don't have to play great golf to win on a hard golf course coming down the stretch. You've just got to hit it in the middle of the green and not do anything stupid.”
Which is exactly what Grillo did, exactly when it mattered the most.