Grillo outlasts Na in playoff

Rookie Emiliano Grillo sank a birdie putt on the second play-off hole to outlast Kevin Na and claim his first PGA Tour title in the season-opening tournament at Napa, California.

The 23-year-old, who earned his PGA Tour card just two weeks ago by winning the Web.Com Tour Championship, fired a 3-under 69, nailing a long birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff.

The pair had finished locked together on 15 under par with Na firing a final round 70 that included four birdies in his final six holes.

The win earns Grillo US$1.08m and moves the Argentinian up to 36th in the world. The victory also got Grillo into the Masters as well as the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Nov. 5-8 in Shanghai.

“You say Masters, I can’t believe it,” said Grillo. “When I got the [PGA Tour] card after the Championship, I saw I was 71 or 72 in the world and said, ‘We got a chance of getting top 50 by the end of the year, let’s try to get it done.’”

Grillo attended the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he now lives and turned pro four years ago, making it to the European Tour, where he had moderate success.

He finished in the top 10 in his first event, the 2012 Africa Open and finished the season in the top 100 of the Order of Merit.

He had just a single professional victory, at a tournament in Argentina, before winning in each of his past two starts having won at the Web.Com Tour championship at the beginning of the month.

“Maybe we can play the tournaments we always wanted to play. There are no words to explain this, this is the greatest moment of my life, golf-wise. It’s been an incredible journey the last five weeks.”

Americans Justin Thomas and Jason Bohn tied for third place on 14 under with South African Tyrone Van Aswegen.

The Australians in the field to make the weekend had Aaron Baddeley finishing in a tie for 55th and Stuart Appleby in 69th position.

Cameron Smith, John Senden, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, Jarrod Lyle, Robert Allenby, Rhein Gibson and Geoff Ogilvy all missed the 2-under cut mark in what was a lacklustre performance by the Australians.

On a more positive note for Australian golf, Jason Day went back to the World No. 1 position, replacing Jordan Spieth, while both were taking a break from the game.

It marks the second time the Aussie has topped the rankings. The last time came after he won the BMW Championship last month.

Rory McIlroy, who tied for 26th at the Open, remains at No. 3.