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PGA in Phoenix: Youngsters Rahm and Grillo making their mark; Villegas making comeback

By - Feb 06, 2017

By Candace Oehler/The Sporting Nation golf contributor


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The recently-concluded Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament had an international flavor, with PGA Tour  players from nearly every continent.  A total of 75 players made the cut at 1-under 141 from a field of 132 professionals.  Among those were Arizona State grad Jon Rahm (Spain), 2016 Rookie of the Year Emiliano Grillo (Argentina), and four-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas (Colombia).

Villegas, who struggled in 2016 and finished ranked 152nd, has come back strong in 2017, making five of seven cuts and notching two top-25 finishes, including his T24 this weekend.

  • What has changed from last season: "You know what, it’s a crazy game, the ups and downs.  I’ve been a little more relaxed this year and funny enough, when you take things a little easier and the mind gets more clear, you play better golf."
  • The WMPO: "I absolutely love this place. I’ve been coming here since 2006 when I got an invitation, and  finished  second. The crowds are unbelieveable.  There’s nothing like it, it’s extremely unique. Once again, I love coming here year after year. What did I give away on 16? A birdie.
  • The Skins Game he hosted in Colombia during the off season: "My brother Manny put it together and it turned out great. It was nice to have good friends Ernie Els and Miguel Cabrera, and the new Colombian on the PGA Tour, Sebastian Muñoz. It was great to go down there, play some golf and interact a little bit with the fans.  Yes, I took the Skins. It’s nice to win at home – the boys took it easy on me.
  • Up and coming Colombian golf talent: "I had a chance to meet Muñoz more during the four playoff Web events; he’s a really nice kid.  He won in Colombia and got his PGA Tour card.  It’s my 12th year on tour and I always said we need more Colombians here, so it’s nice to have him this year.

Jon Rahm (10-under, T16, final round 70)


Last week’s winner of the Farmers Insurance Open made his second appearance at the Waste Management tournament. In 2015, the Arizona State graduate finished T5 as an amateur.

Phoenix: "The fact that I have lived here for the last five years, I consider this my home.  The support I get from the fans here is unconditional.  I don’t get support like this even almost when I go back home to Spain."


Playing the Masters: "It still hasn’t really struck, really.  It’s probably not gonna happen until I’m flying there and I’m like, “Oh man, I’m actually going to the Masters.”  It’s a big one, but there are a lot of other things I’m so excited I’m going to be able to play."


Learning to contend: I kind of got a little bit relaxed, both in Congressional and Canada (RBC), right?  I still thought I was in college where we’re kids and we still make mistakes.  I didn’t realize we’re in the big leagues.  We’re on the PGA Tour, and there are always going to be one or two who won’t make mistakes and not going to make it easy for you, right?"


Grouped with Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler first two days: "I’m really excited to be able to tee it off with those guys, they’re world-class players.  They are something I one day hope to be."


Jose Maria Olazabal: "He’s the one who told me to just go get out there and win early. He told me before I left, 'I want to see you at the Masters.' So hopefully, if he’s healthy, I will see him there."

 

Emiliano Grillo (1-under, T63, final round 72)

 The 2016 Rookie of the Year ranks 41st in FedEx Cup points, and is off to a solid start this season. He is looking to follow up on a monster season that saw him make the cut in all four Majors, earn his first PGA Tour win, make the FedEx Cup playoffs (one of just two rookies to do so), and represent Argentina in the Olympics, where he tied for eighth.  A Waste Management tournament highlight this year was the crowd at No. 16 singing “Hey Macarena” as he stepped to the tee.  Grillo’s wife is named Macarena and, of course, he birdied the hole.


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