Grillo captures season-opening event in a playoff

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Rookie Emiliano Grillo AFP PHOTO

Rookie Emiliano Grillo AFP PHOTO

NAPA, United States: Rookie Emiliano Grillo sank a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to outlast Kevin Na and claim his first USPGA Tour title in the season-opening Frys.com Open on Sunday (Monday in Manila).

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The 23-year-old from Argentina, who earned his PGA Tour card just two weeks ago by winning the Web.com Tour Championship, fired a three-under 69 — draining a long birdie putt on the 72nd hole to set up the playoff.

Grillo, already being touted as rookie of the year contender, won in his first tournament as a card-carrying tour member. His previous appearances on the US Tour came through sponsor’s invitations.

“I was just really focused on my putt and I hit a great putt to win,” said Grillo, who had showed he could compete on the big stage before, losing in a playoff to Alex Cejka of Germany in the Puerto Rico Open and tying for 10th in the Barbasol Championship.

Grillo had a three-foot putt for the win on the first playoff hole but his ball just caught the left edge and stayed out.

He and Na both parred the hole so that sent them back to the tee off the par-five 18th again to try and decided the winner.

American Na hit a nice tee shot, but he chose to go with a driver off the fairway and hooked it behind a tree. That left him with a tricky approach shot from the rough.

He managed to avoid the tree, but his ball sailed past the hole and landed on the other side of the green. His first putt also went long, opening the door for Grillo to win it with a birdie.

Na said he has no regrets about his choice of clubs. He shot a two-under 70 in regulation to finish tied with Grillo at 15-under 273.

Third place finisher Tyrone Van Aswegen, of South Africa, shot one of the best rounds of the day at four-under 68 despite starting his morning in a California hospital. He finished tied with Justin Thomas and Jason Bohn who shot 69 and 70 respectively.

Van Aswegen awoke feeling sick and was taken by ambulance to a hospital where doctors told him he was suffering from dehydration. He was treated with intravenous fluids and released just in time to make his tee time – benefiting from a 20-minute fog delay.

England’s Justin Rose (72), South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel (68), Patrick Rodgers (70) and Kyle Reifers (72) shared sixth place on 276.

Brendan Steele, who led through the first three rounds, struggled mightily Sunday and finished tied for 17th after shooting a disappointing four-over 76.

World no.3 Rory McIlroy shot a three-under 69 for a nine-under 279, six strokes off the pace.

AFP

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