Emiliano Grillo was right to be nervous on Sunday.
In just a few minutes he lost control of the vehicle Charles Schwab’s Challengea two-shot advantage, a tie for the lead, and then watching someone else strike to win the tournament.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, Grillo blocked a shot from the tee on the 72nd right and fell into a stream that sent his ball down almost to the tee. After a few minutes of wondering how the next beat would play— including considering replaying it from stream Grillo fell into the path of the cart and finally did a double bogey.
This took him down to eight-under and tied with Harry Hall and Adam Schenk who still had to play the 18th position Colonial.
Overtime odds dropped from near zero moments earlier to a near certainty, but both players could still make a birdie to win outright.
Hall hit him in the joint on the left, but Schenk scored second on the green, giving him putts to win right away while Hall had one to tie.
Typically, in this situation, the pros sign the scorecard and then head to the practice area or stay behind to see if it goes to overtime. But Grillo wasn’t looking. He was on 1 tee.
“I just did a double,” said Grillo. “I basically gave up the tournament and it wasn’t up to me. It wasn’t in my hands. That was the moment I needed to let it all out.”
He was able to tee balls there instead of the practice field, which is much further away between the third and fifth holes as the course is being dismantled on Monday to begin refurbishment by Gil Hanse.
However, Grillo wasn’t the only one hitting balls.
The Argentine noticed two young boys watching him and called them over. The couple, who were either shy or shocked that a professional had invited them inside the ropes, took a bit of a rib, by Grillo, but with the help of a security guard who lifted them over the railing, they made their way to the Grillo.
Everything was captured by CBS cameras. But it wasn’t just meet and greet, Grillo even let them hit each other with a few balls his clubs. The same ones he was supposed to play in the playoffs with.
Turns out Grillo was reliving a moment from his childhood.
“I think it was a bit of a trick to get your head out of the situation,” Grillo later said. “There are two kids right next to the first tee, and I’m like, ‘Hey, you want to hit the balls? I would like – they are 7, 8 or how old they are. José Cóceres did it with me when I was 7, 8 years old and it was the greatest experience of all, just watching him and hitting his clubs. In a way, I have to do it with them, and I hope they remember that.”
One boy was left-handed. Even when Grillo insisted he could swing his right-handed mace upside down, the boy crossed his arms and flushed the iron with a motion that Josh Broadway proud.
“I’ve never been here,” said one PGA Tour boy. “It was probably the best thing ever.”
It turns out that this touching moment was exactly what Grillo needed.
Schenk missed his birdie, forcing it into overtime. On the first play-off hole, Grillo overcame his demons on the 18th hole of the previous hole, going par and he then birdied the 16th to win.
Not only did Grillo clear his head just in time for his second PGA Tour title, he also gave these two kids a memory that could last a lifetime. Or at least until they win the PGA Tour, if history repeats itself.
“It was amazing and he’s a really good golfer,” said the other boy, and Grillo was still practicing behind him. “One day I’ll be like that.”