Where In The World is a continuing feature that aims to highlight international players who come to compete in USGA championships. Emiliano Grillo, an 18-year-old from Argentina, qualified for this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship. Grillo represented his country at the 2010 Copa de las Americas and World Amateur Team Championship that were both held outside of Buenos Aires. Ken Klavon, the USGA’s online editor, caught up with Grillo this week at Erin Hills to talk about playing in the U.S. Amateur and what it means for an Argentinean to perform well in international golf competitions.
How did you get into the U.S. Amateur?
Grillo: I got in because I'm ranked in the top-50 [of the] amateur world rankings.
How recognized is the U.S. Amateur in Argentina?
Grillo: It's probably the only tournament everyone knows; it's like a professional major championship. If you win it, everyone knows about it. So it's a pretty big deal. I mean, people that know me or people interested in golf are definitely following what I'm doing here.
Where did you grow up in Argentina?
Grillo: I'm from Resistencia, a small city in the middle of the country. It has one small golf course, the only one in the area. It's not in good shape or anything. But I grew up playing on that golf course.
What is your favorite golf course?
Grillo: I would say Olivos Golf Club in Buenos Aires (one of two courses used for World Amateur).
Who would you consider your inspiration, or role model in golf?
Grillo: Jose Coceres. I grew up with him (Coceres also is from the Chaco province where Grillo was raised) and I've seen him play. But also mostly Tiger (Woods) was a guy that inspired me. I've met [2007 U.S. Open champion] Angel Cabrera but that's not a big deal to me.
What is your most memorable shot?
Grillo: I had a hole-in-one, 141 yards with a 6-iron when I was 11-years-old.
You have won some junior tournaments. What would you say is the biggest event you have played in?
Grillo: This is, the U.S. Amateur. No question.
What has been your best moment on a golf course?
Grillo: Probably playing with [current PGA Tour pro] Andres Romero. I played with him at his home golf course in a pro-am. He was great and it was pretty cool.
And your worst moment?
Grillo: Probably this. I just had a pretty bad round, pretty disappointing round (74). I had a couple of three-putts and some bad recovery shots. But I lost a playoff in U.S. Open [sectional] qualifying this year and that was pretty disappointing.
Do you plan to play college golf?
Grillo: No. I came here three years ago and went to the David Leadbetter Academy for golf [in Bradenton, Fla.] when I was 16. I'm planning to turn pro after the Amateur.
Do you have family in this country with you?
Grillo: No. I live in Bradenton, Fla., now. None of my family is here. Today is my twin sisters' birthday. Their names are Carolina and Roseana. They're older than me; I think they turn 42 today. I'm the baby. But they probably don't even know I'm playing. I probably won't call them; just send them a text.
Who would be in your dream foursome?
Grillo: Definitely Tiger. Michael Jordan. And I would say Seve [Ballesteros] and … of course, me.