TFORT WORTH, Texas — Until the last hole, the game of golf spared no one Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Harry Hall, the PGA TOUR rookie who led for most of the tournament, had a chance on the 72nd. He tugged his drive just enough.
His ball tumbled into the famous pond left of the fairway and green at the 435-yard par-4. An eviscerating bogey there gave him a 3-over 73, a finish at 7-under, and an immediate dismissal from a playoff with, at the time, Emiliano Grillo, who’d lost his own tussle with the vagaries of the sport just moments before.
“I did a few things stupid today,” said Hall, a 25-year-old Englishman. (He did a few things smartly, for the record. Hall opened with 62-66 in his first start at Colonial. He was the best putter in the field through 72 holes, at nearly eight shots in Strokes Gained: Putting.)
Adam Schenk, who played in Sunday’s final group alongside Hall, suffered his own personal debacle, at the worst time possible, on a course with greens approaching U.S. Open firmness.
Schenk made the playoff at 8-under 272 with a quiet round of 72 and a par at the last. He and Grillo matched pars on the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th. At the second, the 185-yard par-3 16th, Schenk watched Grillo cozy a bold tee shot to 4 feet. Schenk then knew what he had to do.
Schenk had birdied the hole in regulation with an 8-iron. He thought the wind — the strongest of the week on Sunday — was about the same in sudden death.
He swung the same club.
“It took off with no spin and just went a mile,” Schenk said.
The 8-iron traveled 197 yards, sailing the green. A sublime chip put him just inside the length of Grillo’s putt.
He never had the opportunity to hole it, which brings us to Grillo, the 2023 champion.
The two-time TOUR winner from Argentina held a two-shot lead at 10-under when he settled into his stance on the 18th tee. He swiped his drive, resulting in a calamitous bounce into the concrete ditch right of the fairway. Running water carried his ball nearly all the way back to the tee, the television cameras documenting its entire journey.
Grillo accepted a penalty stroke and took a drop, 189 yards from the hole. Four strokes later, he finished with a double-bogey in his round of 68.
After the tie with Schenk on the first hole of the playoff, Grillo bounced his tee shot on the 16th on the brow of a greenside bunker, inches from the sand. Anything could’ve happened. A little more to the right and the ball is plugged. A little more to the left and it never catches the grade. A little short and it never reaches the hole.
But it was perfect. The kick from the bunker edge put his ball close enough that Schenk, hitting second, could see how short it was.
“I took the entire slope and got close,” Grillo said. His stroke on the short putt to win was as sure as they come.
“Obviously it’s great,” said Grillo, who last won — also in a playoff — in at the Fortinet Championship in October 2015.
“It made everything worth it,” he said. “The playing, all the hours practicing, the effort from my family.”
Grillo became the second Argentinian to win at Colonial since Roberto De Vicenzo shot 4-over 284 in 1957, winning $5,000.
“It makes you think when you started playing all the emotions come through your head,” Grillo said. “It’s been tough, but it’s worth every second.”
He won $1.566 million, increasing his career earnings to $16.8 million. He banked 500 FedExCup points, boosting him from 57th to 18th for the season.
His perseverance came on a Colonial Country Club course that firmed by the day, especially on the greens. Players talked all weekend about the adjustments they had to make to compensate for the various hops, skips and jumps they expected on approach shots.
“It was probably the hardest round of golf I’ve played,” Schenk said. “The course is hard for everybody, but it was pushed to the limits.”
His and Grillo’s four-round score of 272 was the highest at Colonial since Olin Browne won in 1999.
With his career-best finish — a tie for third with Scottie Scheffler, who shot 67 with an ace of the par-3 eighth — Hall tried hard to find encouragement. But a weekend of 72-73, even on a course that kept getting more sinister, left Hall with lots to think about and little to say. He said he was looking forward to going home to Las Vegas.
“I just looked,” Hall said, searching for the bright side.
“I’ve got 162 points in the FedExCup after this week. If you’d given that to me at the start of the week, I would have taken it.”
He added this: “I learned a lot, and you don’t have to play great golf to win on a hard golf course coming down the stretch. You’ve just got to hit it in the middle of the green and not do anything stupid.”
Which is exactly what Grillo did, exactly when it mattered the most.
FORT WORTH, Texas — The scariest places at Colonial Country Club are right in front of every player at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Because those frightful spots are the greens between them and the trophy presentation Sunday afternoon, they must be confronted. The champion will be the player who accurately predicts every variable, from the skip on approach shots to the crispening side-slopes to how far gravity will carry a downhill putt.
That person might be Adam Schenk, who shot 3-under 67 in a third round that averaged more than 71 strokes — one over par — for the field of 72.
Schenk, 31, is winless in six years of playing the PGA TOUR. He contended until the very end at the Valspar Championship, where he finished in second after drawing a horrible lie behind a tree late on the 72nd hole. He’s tied for the lead at Colonial at minus-10 and telling himself, over and over, that he can only control what he can control.
“If I do that well and catch a few breaks, hopefully I have a chance on the back nine,” he said.
That person might be Harry Hall. Hall is the 25-year-old TOUR rookie from England who endeared himself to the gallery at Colonial by wearing a flat cap, like Hogan did.
Hall shot rounds of 62-66 in his first appearance at the tournament. The golf fates had other plans for him Saturday. Hall opened with five straight pars. He double-bogeyed the par-4 sixth with an errant approach, then made the same score on the par-4 seventh, this time with an iron shot pulled into the muddy creek that spills to the Trinity River.
He looked frustrated and dejected. But Hall righted himself on the back, with birdies on the 12th and 17th.
He shot 72, good enough to tie Schenk and join him in the final group.
“I’m never going to stop fighting,” Hall said. “I’m always going to keep trying. Like I said yesterday, this game brings you new challenges every day, and I’m equipped to deal with them. And I think I showed that today, and I kept a lot of patience, and I kept to my game plan.”
Or that person just might be Harris English.
The 33-year-old from Georgia shot even-par 70 — three birdies, 12 pars, three bogeys, one of them on the last hole. He finished at 9-under, a shot behind Hall and Schenk, on a golf course where the greens will get no softer, no easier to manage or predict, for the final round. English said he’s had to adjust for the firmness with every new day.
“It just depends on the wind, but I’m going six, seven, eight paces short of the flag, which is hard to do when you have like a gap wedge or a pitching wedge to the green,” said English, a four-time winner on TOUR. “So you just kind of have to trust it that it’s going to bounce that much and release.”
On Monday, Gil Hanse and his design firm will begin a highly anticipated renovation of Colonial, which opened in 1936 in the river bottoms just southwest of downtown and has changed little since. With the work so close at hand, there’s no reason for the grounds staff to worry about losing the greens. They’re going to be lost anyway, after all.
“When greens get that firm and things get spicy like that, it makes every golf course firm or really difficult,” English said.
One player lost ground. Another gained it. English went nowhere. Behind them, Justin Suh and Emiliano Grillo sits at minus-6, and four players are at minus-5.
“You’re going to have make some birdie putts from 10 to 20 feet,” Schenk noted. “You’re going to have to roll in a couple that you normally wouldn’t.”
“I’m ready,” said Hall. “Just get on the green and make some putts.”
“You could tell kind of in the practice rounds that it would get firm this week,” English said of the greens at Colonial. “Given the fact they’re going to tear them up after this tournament, I think they’re going to let them go and let them bake out and see how hard it can play out here.”
He added: “I think even-par is going to be a good score tomorrow. I don’t know if it’s going to get it done, but it’s going to be tough.”
And not just once, but 18 times.
FORT WORTH, Texas — The 36-hole leader of the Charles Schwab Challenge felt his heart racing Friday on the front nine. His eyes played tricks on him.
It was all new for Harry Hall — the anxiety and the pressure that came with his first lead on the PGA TOUR. And he had the longest wait of the entire field. The 25-year-old TOUR rookie from England played in the last grouping of the day to continue his dominion over Colonial Country Club, where he shot 4-under 66 to finish two rounds at 12-under par.
By the end of it all, Hall led Harris English by three with the weekend to go. The two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour said he hoped to draw on the experience from the 2020 Wichita Open and the 2022 NV5 Invitational to do something he’s yet to do: win on the biggest stage.
“You have to manage nerves for the rest of your life,” he said. “They never go away. All the little tools that I’ve created in the last few years of professional golf, they’ll probably be escalated and there will be new challenges tomorrow, and you’ve got to accept that.”
He certainly will accept his performance through two days at Colonial. Hall ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (6.86) and fourth in Strokes Gained: Around the Green (2.87). He’s 11 of 13 in scrambling. He ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (5.83).
He collected eight birdies in his round of 62 Thursday. He made four in a row in the middle of his round Friday.
“I just was in the moment out there and taking one shot at a time, and I did that really well,” said Hall, who played college golf at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Happy with the composure I had and the patience I had and the acceptance I had.”
Fate and luck tested those qualities on his final three holes Friday.
On the par-4 seventh, which played as the 16th of his round, Hall’s tee shot came to rest on a twig. He didn’t dare move it.
“You don’t want to risk that,” he said.
Hall swung 9-iron from 157 yards, stopped his ball 11 feet from the hole and made the putt for birdie.
On the par-3 eighth, Halls ball rode the hint of wind in North Texas, landed in a greenside bunker and plugged in the face.
“I could see only two dimples,” he said.
His first swipe dislodged the ball, which rolled to his feet. He holed the next one for par on the last revolution.
Then, on the iconic par-4 ninth, he blocked a fairway-metal shot that seemed destined for a parade of tall trees and the lush rough under them. His ball nicked one, just right.
Hall found it in the middle of the fairway.
“I don’t think it would’ve mattered,” he said with a sly smile. “I think I would have been very happy with the day, and luckily it bounced out.”
On TOUR, Hall wears a handsome flat cap — a tribute to Jim Barnes, the great English pro who hailed from the Cornish town of Lelant. “Long Jim” later moved to the U.S. and won the PGA Championship twice, in 1916 and 1919; the U.S. Open in 1921; and the Open Championship in 1925. Barnes played out of West Cornwall Golf Club in England, where Hall did before college.
“That’s kind of why I wear it,” Hall said of his cap: khaki on Friday, with a sponsor logo on top.
It’s gone over well at Colonial, where Ben Hogan won five times.
“More Jim Barnes than Ben Hogan, but it’s nice to be in a familiar place where this hat was worn,” Hall said. “It probably is doing me some good luck this week.”
FORT WORTH, Texas — Harry Hall no longer has reason to be disappointed with his recent putting. The PGA TOUR rookie from England took only 22 putts, the last one an 8-foot birdie for an 8-under 62 that gave him a four-shot lead in the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Hall’s first time playing Colonial was a dream start – eight birdies along with par saves of 15 feet and 30 feet.
Tom Hoge, who played his college golf at TCU and now makes Fort Worth his home, holed out for eagle from the seventh fairway on his way to a 66.
Scottie Scheffler, who returned to No. 1 in the world with his tie for second at the PGA Championship, and defending champion Sam Burns were in the large group at 67 among early starters. Burns beat Scheffler in a playoff last year with a 45-foot putt.
Jordan Spieth didn’t make his lone birdie until the eighth hole and opened with a 72.
California club pro Michael Block was living the dream at the PGA Championship. Thursday at Colonial brought him back to reality.
A sensation at Oak Hill when he tied for 15th against the strongest field in golf, Block opened with three straight bogeys and finished with three double bogeys over his last four holes of an 11-over 81 that left him in last place and 19 shots behind Harry Hall in the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Block received a sponsor exemption — he has one for the RBC Canadian Open next week, too — after his amazing week at the PGA Championship. He was on “CBS This Morning,” received a text from Michael Jordan and signed with WME Sports.
“I’ve got nothing,” he said to himself after a tee shot on the 13th barely cleared the water and finished on the back left of a green that had a front right pin.
“If you are a golfer, you’ve had the day I’ve had,” Block said after his worst score by seven shots in the four PGA Tour-level events he has played this year. “You understand the facts of where the lies aren’t good and the trees are in your way every time. Even your good shots are bad, your bad shots are worse.
“It is what it is. I’m going to live with it,” he said. “I thought it was going to happen that third or fourth round last week at Oak Hill, and it never happened. It happened now, and I wasn’t surprised by it, to tell you the truth.”
Block has been on quite a ride the last six days. He made the cut at the PGA Championship, played with Justin Rose on Saturday and Rory McIlroy on Sunday. The 46-year-old head pro at Trabuco Arroyo in Mission Hills, California, turned in a performance as memorable as Brooks Koepka winning his fifth major.
He made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole, and his closing from deep rough gave him a tie for 15th and an automatic spot in next year’s PGA Championship.
And then he came crashing back to earth after a week so busy he only saw Colonial one time before Thursday. But he wasn’t giving up just yet.
“I’m looking forward to coming out tomorrow and playing a great round and giving it everything I have,” he said. “I’ve shot 58, and I’ve shot a 59 in my life, and since what I had today, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it. So if I do, cool. If not, I’ll be seeing my kids and my wife tomorrow night in Orange County, California. It’s all good one way or the other.”
Hall played his college golf at UNLV and is No. 99 in the FedExCup, a reasonable rookie season that features a pair of top 10s in Puerto Rico Open and the Mexico Open at Vidanta.
He changed up his routine this week by playing 36 holes of practice at Colonial — a Monday pro-am and then nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday. That helps, along with his putter.
“Maybe that’s the key, just to see a bit more of the course than I have done in the past,” Hall said. “I didn’t do too much different. I kind of just made things a little bit more simple.”
He kept it simple at the start, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 opening hole and then making a 10-foot birdie putt. That doesn’t mean it was always easy. Hall made a 15-footer for par on the next hole and then twice got up-and-down to save pars.
He missed seven greens and played those holes in 1 under, the biggest being a chip-in for birdie from about 80 feet on the 12th hole that put him at 7 under with six holes to play. He made only one birdie the rest of the way, but his longest putt he made was 30 feet for par on the 15th.
“I was really in the moment out there and determined to play some good golf,” Hall said. “The 7 out of 7 scrambles doesn’t really surprise me because that’s the best part of my game, but the way I hit the ball the first two-thirds of that round was pretty special.”
Hoge, who was raised in North Dakota, is so passionate about his Horned Frogs that he flew from Maui to Los Angeles to watch TCU in the college football champions game (a blowout loss to Georgia) and then flew back for Sony Open in Hawaii.
He got off to a decent start until his round stalled. It came to life on No. 6 when his approach settled inches away from the cup. And then on the seventh, he hit an 8-iron from 157 yards straight into the cup for an eagle.
It’s just the start he needed after missing the cut at Colonial the last three times.
“The last few years, I really struggled on Thursday then kind of fought back on Friday to try to make the cut,” Hoge said. “It was certainly a focus this year to try to get off to a good start, try to be a little more patient and letting the round come to me. Making a few birdies off the bat was really nice.”
Scheffler wasn’t sure what to make of his round. He felt it could have been better than his 67, and there were times he felt it getting away from him. At the end, he figured anything under par never hurts at Colonial.
One example of how it could have gotten away from him came at the fifth. With the wind at his back, Scheffler thought driver was too much and so he opted to hit a fade with a 3-wood. That turned into more of a slice and was headed for the hazard. It rattled among the trees.
“Next thing I know, I saw the ball bounce out, and I actually had a shot from the middle of the fairway,” he said. “Massive break there. I ended up being able to take advantage of it and make birdie. It was definitely a shot or two swing, I would say, throughout the round.”