PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The crop of emerging young stars on the PGA Tour is plenty deep. From Jordan Spieth to Daniel Berger to Justin Thomas, many players who were in the junior ranks just a few years ago are now contending – and winning – on the biggest stage.
That group also includes Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, who played in the 2010 Junior Players at TPC Sawgrass on the adjacent Stadium Course. That week he tied for second alongside Spieth and ahead of notables like Berger, Patrick Rodgers and Ollie Schniederjans, all of whom he is eager to join next season on the PGA Tour.
Grillo finished his second round at the Web.com Tour Championship with a flurry, making birdie on No. 17 before holing a 9-iron from 175 yards for an eagle on No. 18. After a 6-under 64, he sits at 10 under and holds a one-shot lead at the season finale.
Grillo, 23, has long sought a breakthrough in the U.S., having primarily played the European Tour since turning pro in 2011.
“I’ve never imagined myself playing in Europe. I’ve been to Q-School here, but I got in over there so I’ve been playing there the last four years, which I don’t regret at all,” Grillo said. “I didn’t want to play that long, but it is what it is.”
Grillo finally got his chance at the Puerto Rico Open in March, where he lost in a playoff as a sponsor invite. He followed with a T-10 finish at the Barbasol Championship, earning enough non-member FedEx Cup points to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals.
He opened the Finals with a pair of top-10s, including a runner-up finish two weeks ago at the Small Business Connection Championship, to cement his Tour card. Now he heads into the weekend at TPC Sawgrass with a chance to top the Finals money list, which would give him fully exempt status when he re-joins his former junior adversaries later this month.
“We used to play a lot together, hang out a lot together,” he said. “Now I can see them winning majors, and winning tournaments. It gives me not only motivation, but the knowledge that I can win out here.”