The gods of golf unleashed their displeasure at Colonial Country Club on Sunday. Perhaps they all got up on the wrong side of the bed as an unlikely winner emerged from a trio that seemed to do everything required to lose the tournament. Someone had to win out of the threesome of Emiliano Grillo, Alex Schenk and Harry Hall. Scottie Scheffler should have won but he was eliminated first and wasn’t a factor at the end despite missing the eventual playoff by a stroke. Scheffler’s putter simply didn’t cooperate and he couldn’t make the required birdie coming in to contend at the end. The greens at Colonial became concrete-like in the final round and only Grillo made a critical birdie putt on the 16th hole to take a 2 shot lead with 2 holes to play. Professionals can almost always close the deal in this situation. All Grillo had to do was par the final two holes to claim victory. After making par on 17, he lashed his tee shot on 18 into the trees on the right finding what appeared to be an aqueduct as his ball kept moving down the stream. Perhaps he should have hit back into the fairway while it was still moving to take advantage of the length to which the ball was traveling. However, this is against the rules and he had to advance the ball from whence it went in the aqueduct. He smashed the ball from a concrete lie and for a minute, the ghost of Jean van De Veldt may have appeared, as he knocked the ball back into the fairway from a concrete lie, but with the penalty drop, he made double bogey 6 to bring the others back into the tournament. Hall led the tournament for most of the way but a series of short putts missed brought him back to the field and it seemed like the “first guy trying to win” heebie jeebies kicked in and yet he was still in contention as Grillo opened the door on the 18th hole. Hall was 8 under as he approached the 18th tee and needed a par to get into the playoff. Hall unleashed a drive down the left side and got through the trees, (unfortunately) found a bare spot in the fairway, and hooked it left into the pond 340 yards away. Hall never thought that the pond would ever be in play and that was his end of the tournament for him. Shenk seemed to be another case of the heebie jeebies as he played so well tee to green but never made the birdie putt he needed. He had birdie putt on 18 to win the event but alas, the golf gods said “no” as it narrowly missed. Grillo survived the catastrophe on 18 and entered the playoff against Shenk. Hall could only regret what could have been with short putts missed and the woeful tee shot on 18.
The playoff started uneventfully as Grillo and Shenk both made par–a good achievement for Grillo after the regulation fiasco. On the second playoff hole, Grillo’s approached headed dangerously left towards the bunker and then proceeded to miss that bunker by a hair and take a remarkable bounce towards the hole finishing about 6 feet from the hole. Shenk had to get on the green to at least put some pressure on Grill but–NO!–he airmailed the green with an 8 iron and Grillo emerged out of the ashes of all of this marginal play to emerge victorious. As we all say in the world of sport, “A Win is A Win” although this quality of play looked more like a group playing to finish the tournament instead of players trying to win it.
Colonial played a role in the proceedings with conditions on Sunday. The combination of difficult pin positions plus the green dried out to lightening like speed negatively impacted scoring. It was obvious that the closing holes were not yielding birdies and that the player with the fewest mistakes would win. Normally, Grillo’s double bogey 6 on 18 would have sealed his fate, but the competition could not capitalize on what is usually a fatal error. Grillo won it but the golf gods rained on this victory.