Same coach, different approach: Grillo trying to become next Como student to win on TOUR
September 22, 2020
By Sean Martin , PGATOUR.COM
Emiliano Grillo | Here to Stay
Emiliano Grillo was at a Caribbean resort while Bryson DeChambeau was bashing his way to a U.S. Open victory on Sunday.
Winged Foot, where DeChambeau was the only player to finish under par, is one of the game’s most stressful tests. The venue for this week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship is a stark contrast, an idyllic setting with six holes that run along the Caribbean Ocean.
The contrast in their locales last weekend parallels the different styles of these two PGA TOUR winners.
“(Bryson) is very intense. He’s 200% into everything about golf,” Grillo says. “I’m more of a relaxed, easy person. I’ll work hard but I’m not going to put in the extra time that Bryson does. That got him to where he is at the moment, and I just have a different way of seeing my job at different times.”
They do share one thing in common: a swing coach. Both work with Chris Como, the Dallas-based instructor whom DeChambeau effusively praised Sunday for guiding him through the radical transformation of his body and game.
Como’s ability to assist one of the game’s most obsessive tinkerers, and another student with a more laid-back approach, is credit to an under-appreciated aspect of coaching. It’s not just what you know, but how you convey the information to your students. Como can be give DeChambeau the data he craves or tailor his teaching to Grillo, as well.
“Chris is always 100% into it. He adapts to your personality,” Grillo says. “I’m super different to Bryson and we both really match well with (Chris). That’s what makes him very special.”
Grillo said he isn’t planning a Bryson-esque transformation – “I enjoy a lot of other things, and I don’t think adding weight for my job is a priority,” he says – but he has been helped by Como’s instruction. Whereas DeChambeau loves to rely on Trackman readings and his background in physics, it has been a simple key from Como that has benefitted Grillo.
“It’s actually very simple,” Grillo said. “I’m hitting the ball with my right hip, creating space for the club (to travel through impact). It was a feeling that I was trying to do and find it, and he did it super easy for me.”
Grillo and Como started working together at this year’s PLAYERS Championship, the last event before the season was paused by the coronavirus pandemic.Chris Como in 2015 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Grillo had made the cut in just one of his six starts before arriving at TPC Sawgrass. The lone exception was a third-place finish at the Puerto Rico Open, a tournament that’s played a big part in his career. He was a non-member when he finished second there five years ago, a finish that qualified him for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, then won his first start as a PGA TOUR member, the Safeway Open.
Como didn’t see a need for a dramatic overhaul of Grillo’s swing. He just needed to help him get back to his old ways. Grillo finished third in Strokes Gained: Approach in 2019 and 20th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee.
“He was in a little bit of a funk. I just said, ‘You’re a great ball-striker. We just need to figure out what you’ve done when you hit it well because your good is one of the best out here,’” Como says. “He just had some excess body motion that he didn’t have when he played his best. His setup changed. He got too squatty in his knees. His head would pull away from the ball, and the club would come down from the inside compared to his preferred path.”
Grillo’s struggles continued after the Return to Golf. He missed the cut in four of his first six starts after the season resumed, and his best finish was T39. Grillo was 122nd in the FedExCup, and in danger of missing the Playoffs for the first time in his career, in late July. But he responded with top-10s at the 3M Open and Barracuda. He finished third at 3M thanks to a 64-65 weekend.
This new season is off to a promising start. He was in the top 10 through the first three rounds of the season-opening Safeway Open before a final-round 73 dropped him to T29. He finished the week ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach and third in greens in regulation.
Now, he’ll try to follow another Como student into the winner’s circle. He’ll take a different approach to get there, however.