2023 Charles Schwab Challenge leaderboard, grades: Emiliano Grillo survives playoff for second PGA Tour win
A double-bogey from Grillo on the 72nd hole caused a bit of drama late at Colonial CC
It wasn't pretty, but it was perhaps never going to be with the world No. 1 coming up fast behind. Nevertheless, Emiliano Grillo won his second PGA Tour event (and first in eight years) on Sundy at the Charles Schwab Challenge by shooting a final round of 68 to finish at 8 under and beating in Adam Schenk in a two-hole playoff by making birdie at the par-3 16th.
Grillo got off to a very Grillo-like start in Round 4 by going birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey to start before settling down and making four birdies the rest of the way to shoot that 66.
With Scottie Scheffler charging with a 67, including anto get him to 7 under for the tournament (where he would finish), and with the rest of the top of the leaderboard fading coming home, Grillo filled the gap and filled up the cup with an unusually hot putter. He made putts of 12 feet, 17 feet, a 19-footer on the par-3 16th, and an 8-footer on the 17th. All monstrous putts given what was at stake.
At the 72nd hole, he needed every last one of them. The only thing Grillo couldn't do at the last in regulation was make a double. What did he do? He hit a ball off the planet that landed in a man-made creek and nearly floated away. With a two-stroke lead, he had to drop on a concrete path and ended up making double. At the time it seemed like a devastating ending to what was a terrific round.
However, Grillo regrouped for the playoff, even asking a few kids if they wanted to hit balls with him as he warmed up, and made a sweet birdie on the second hole.
"It's been such a ride," he told CBS Sports. "Makes me think about where I come from and my family. We had a baby 14 months ago. Life changed, perspective changed. Today I made a double on 18. Honestly, I didn't care. I would have liked to get it on the 72nd. They say the second is harder than the first. It definitely was. I'm on top of the world right now. Hopefully I can stay there another week."
Was this victory — easily the greatest of Grillo's career — a surprise? Sure. The Charles Schwab field was a strong one — Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland and Tony Finau all joined Scheffler in the field the week after the PGA Championship — and Grillo is not an elite player.
On the other hand, Grillo has been popping of late. He finished T7 at the RBC Heritage a month ago and T5 at the Mexico Open two weeks after that. That's sort of what he does, though. In his PGA Tour career he had 28 top 10s in 205 starts coming into this week. That's to be expected from a tremendous ball-striker like Grillo, who has always struggled with his short game. This week at Colonial, though? Grillo finished second in the field in strokes-gained putting, and that was highlighted not necessarily by the bomb at No. 16 but by a par save on No. 17 from 8 feet.
Call it a victory for the folks who disregard putting altogether, call it a victory for elite iron players (Grillo is one of the best), call it whatever you want, but don't forget to call it a win for Grillo, who hasn't had a lot of them throughout his career.
Despite six runner-up finishes in his career, Grillo had just one victory before this week — a 2015 Frys.com Open playoff triumph over Kevin Na in a playoff. He had, in many ways, become somebody whose name was easy to skip over when he was at the top of the leaderboard. Grade: A+
T3. Scottie Scheffler (-7): The No. 1 player in the world had an exciting Sunday with an ace on the 189-yard par-3 8th hole, but Scheffler continues to face two problems. The first is that he seems to face one round that takes him out of the tournament (this happened at both the Masters and the PGA Championship). The second is that he cannot make a putt. On the week, he made just five putts longer than 8 feet and finished 70th in putting on the week. To put this in perspective, Scheffler gained 15 strokes from tee to green while Schenk and Grillo gained just 11.5 overall.
This is more or less how Scheffler's entire year has gone. He's now had eight tournaments in which he was a field average (or worse) putter, and his worst (worst!) finish in those tournaments is T11. Truly a ball-striking heater for the ages. He said afterwards, "The hole looks small. That's pretty much it." Grade: A-
T6. Rickie Fowler (-5): A good rebound from last week when Fowler missed the cut at the PGA Championship. This week's finish is his seventh top 20 in his last eight starts and underscores this middle ground he's been walking between playing poorly (he's not) and contending to win golf tournaments (which he's also not doing). The question for me this summer is whether he can make the leap from "playing solidly at almost every PGA Tour event" to "winning again for the first time in four years." He's so close to that happening — closer than he's been in a long time -- but it's a leap that most never make once in their careers much less multiple times like Fowler is trying to do. Fowler: B+
T29 Collin Morikawa (E): It was a so-so week for Morikawa, who has had a lot of so-so weeks this year. After nearly winning multiple times in January, the two-time major champion has just two top 10s in the last four months. His problem this week? First, he putted it horribly (which is not that out of the ordinary), and second, he played the 384-yard par-4 9th hole in 7 over. That's right, in four rips at the 9th, Morikawa made two bogeys, a double and a triple. He played a golf hole that was supposed to take 16 strokes in 23 for the week. The good news? He played the other 68 holes in 7 under. Grade: C+
Playoff time at Colonial
Adam Schenk pars the last, which means he and Grillo are headed to a playoff at 8 under. Hall made bogey so he drops back into a tie for third with Scottie Scheffler.
Grillo makes 6 at the last
Wow, incredible stuff here. Grillo doubles the last to fall into a tie for first with Hall and Schenk, who are on the 18th tee box right now. Scheffler (-7) is one back of everybody, but he officially cannot win as Grillo is in the house at 8 under.
Grillo falls apart
After blowing driver off the planet into a man-made creek on the 18th, Emilano Grillo had to drop on a concrete path where the ball first entered the creek and now has a long putt for bogey. Remember, he's two up on Harry Hall and Adam Schenk, who are walking to the 18th tee box, but it looks as if he's about to be tied with them.
Grillo takes control
Emiliano Grillo takes control of the golf tournament with a 19-foot birdie putt on the 16th and an 8-foot par putt on the 17th. He takes a two-stroke lead to the last, and though he's in a spot of bother off the tee, he probably only needs bogey for a playoff.