Pilar, Buenos Aires, Argentina (December 7, 2014) – Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo was able to defend a six-stroke lead on Sunday in the final round to win the 109th VISA Open de Argentina presented by Peugeot.
On a day of inclement weather in which the start of the final round underwent several delays and was even in jeopardy of not being played, Grillo teed it off at 3:00 p.m. Almost five hours later, under the last few rays of light, he secured the title with a bogey-free 4-under 67.
A member of the European Tour, where he finished the season ranked 44th on the Race to Dubai standings last month, Grillo was the only player on the field to post four rounds in the sixties to win at Martindale Country Club. He finished the week at 18-under 266.
“This is incredible! It’s a dream come true and I’m very proud to have achieve it at such an early age,” said Grillo, who won at 22 years, 2 months, 23 days to become the third youngest player ever to win a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event.
With the course wet due to the rain that softened the greens, the final round turned into a low scoring affair. “Today (the course) played easier and you can see it by the scores posted by those chasing me. They were on the attack,” said the champion, who had one birdie and 12 pars over the first 13 holes to have his lead cut to only three strokes.
“It was a long round to play. I tried my best to stay in the moment, focused on what I had to do and when I saw that my lead had been cut to three I stayed calm. I knew three strokes were a lot. I knew there were just a few holes left to play and I was playing well. Fortunately, I made three birdies on the last five holes to win by a large margin,” added the champion.
Adding to the excitement of his first career victory, during his winner’s speech on the 18th green Grillo announced that he and his girlfriend, Macarena, will be getting married soon. The lovely couple has been together for three years and she was the first to congratulate him as soon as he secured the victory.
Grillo won by six over Illinois’ Brad Hopfinger, who posted a bogey-free 64 to finish solo second. With Sunday’s effort Hopfinger was able to finish the season ranked among PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s Los Cinco, the Order of Merit top-5 players who earned Web.com Tour status for the 2015 season.
Argentina’s Fabián Gómez, a PGA TOUR member who won last week’s event, shot 65 to finish solo third at 11-under. Brazil’s Rafael Becker, Colombian’s Marcelo Rozo and Florida’s Tyler McCumber finished at 9-under. For Rozo and McCumber, the three-way tie for fourth wasn’t good enough to move past Argentina’s Julián Etulain in a very close race for the Order of Merit's top spot.
After a miserable weekend outside the ropes because of a missed cut, Etulain had the relief of claiming PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Player of the Year honors. He became the third recipient of the Roberto De Vicenzo Award and earned a full exemption to play on the Web.com Tour next season. Ranked Nos. 2-5, the other four players who also graduated to the Web.com Tour were Rozo, McCumber, Hopfinger and Argentina’s Jorge Fernández Valdés.
Watch: Final Round Highlights
Weather. Overcast. A thunderstorm coming through delayed the start of the final round by five hours. There were constant showers through the first half of the day. The rain was gone by 2 p.m. and the final round, originally scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m., got underway at 1:20 p.m. A high of 19-degrees Celsius. Winds were not a factor.
Conditions of play. With the course taking plenty of rain during the first half of the day, players were allowed to lift, clean and place on closely-mown areas through the green.
This was his first career victory in three seasons as a professional.
He wins the title at age 22 years, 2 months, 23 days to become the third youngest player to win a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event. The only other players to win at an earlier age were his countrymen Jorge Fernández Valdés, who won the 2013 Mundo Maya Open 2013 at age 20 years, 9 moths, 13 days, and Tommy Cocha, who won that same event in 2012 at age 21 years, 9 months and 13 days.
A member of the European Tour, Grillo was playing his second career tournament on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. On his only other start he had finish in tie for third at this same event in 2013.
His victory added to a strong closing stretch for Argentine players on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. The Argentines won four of the last five official events on the schedule and a total of six wins throughout the season. They also claimed the only unofficial event played in October.
Finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Order of Merit with $92,394 in earnings. He finished holding a $3,277 lead over the No. 2 ranked Marcelo Rozo.
As the Order of Merit No. 1 he claims PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Player of the Year honors, the Roberto De Vicenzo Award and full exempt status for the 2015 season on the Web.com Tour.
He had claimed the Order of Merit top spot after his victory at the Lexus Peru Open on November 2nd and stayed in that position until the end of the season despite missing the cut on his last three starts.
He became the second Argentine player to finish first in the Order of Merit in three seasons of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica golf. He follows in the footsteps of his countryman Ariel Cañete, who finished first at the conclusion of the Tour’s inaugural season in 2012.
At age 26, he is the youngest winner of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit. Ariel Cañete was 37 years old in 2012 and Ryan Blaum was 29 in 2013.
With victories at the Lexus Peru Open in 2013 and 2014, plus a win a the 2014 Lexus Panama Classic, Etulain is the winningest player in three seasons of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
Before finishing first in the Order of Merit this year, Etulain had finished 52nd in 2012, just outside the top-50 who kept their Tour cards, and sixth in 2013, just outside Los Cinco who graduated to the Web.com Tour.
At the conclusion of the season, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit top-5 players secured Web.com Tour status for the 2015 season. The following are their final positions and earnings:
- Julián Etulain, Argentina $92,394
- Marcelo Rozo, Colombia $89,117
- Tyler McCumber, Florida $86,164
- Brad Hopfinger, Illinois $68,719
- Jorge Fernández Valdés, Argentina $67,523
Best rounds of the day:
- 63 (-8) Emilio Domínguez, Argentina; Jorge Fernández Valdés, Argentina
- 64 (-7) Brad Hopfinger, Illinois; Robert Rohanna, Pennsylvania
- 63 (-8) Jorge Fernández Valdés, Argentina
- 64 (-7) Brad Hopfinger, Illinois
- 65 (-6) Rafael Becker, Brazil
- 67 (-4) Emiliano Grillo, Argentina
- 68 (-3) Santiago Rivas, Colombia