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Grillo wins in rookie debut at Open

Defeats Kevin Na in dramatic playoff to claim 2015-16 season-opening event

Given another chance, Emiliano Grillo was determined not to let this one get away.

Seven months after he missed a 3-foot putt that cost him a victory in the Puerto Rico Open and a PGA TOUR card, Grillo stood over a 3-foot putt to win the Open in a playoff Sunday and was shocked to see it spin out of the left side of the cup.

“It was a very tough time coming back to the tee,” Grillo said.

Moment later, he threw his arms in the air after making a 10-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Kevin Na and win in his rookie debut on the PGA TOUR. What really made the 23-year-old Argentine light up was one thought. He’s going to the Masters.

“It means everything,” Grillo said. “They’ve said the word ‘Masters’ twice today. You see this?”

He pointed to a smile that was brighter than the silver trophy sitting next to him on the table.

Grillo made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th in regulation for a 3-under 69 to post at 15-under 273. Na got up-and-down from right of the 18th green and made birdie from 6 feet for a 70 to force a playoff.

The Argentine looked like a sure winner until missing the 3-footer, which brought back such dark memories of Puerto Rico that he said he had nightmares for a week.

The next mistake belonged to Na.

From the 18th fairway on the second extra hole, he tried to hit driver off the deck and hooked it behind a tree, which made it difficult for him to keep his third shot on the green. Na made bogey, and Grillo only had to two-putt for the victory.

Na said he has been hitting driver off the tight fairway grass all week without any trouble. He told Golf Channel right after it was over that maybe the darkening sky or the ball slightly above his feet caused him to hook it.

Grillo sure had a debut to remember.

On Saturday, he didn’t realize the group was still on the green at the reachable 17th hole and his tee shot narrowly hit Rory McIlroy on the fly.

“I didn’t want to be the guy who almost hit Rory McIlroy this week,” Grillo said. “Kind of wanted to have this trophy and everybody know me because I have the trophy, and not because I almost hit him.” 


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