Time for Griffin to turn consistency into victory at the Houston Open
October 12, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Lanto Griffin's Round 3 highlights from Houston Open
HOUSTON – Lanto Griffin was at a pro-am dinner earlier this year during a Korn Ferry Tour event in the Bahamas. Greg Norman, who had designed the host course, was a speaker that night and made a comment that resonated with the 31-year-old.
“He doesn’t look at the guys that are winning or finished third and missed three cuts,” Griffin recalled. “He looks at the guys that are finishing 10th, 15th, 20th consistently. That really stuck in the back of my mind. I think about it all the time.”
Now he’s doing it all the time. Starting with a victory at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship, Griffin reeled off a stretch of 10 top-25 finishes in his last 14 Korn Ferry Tour starts, eventually earning membership for the second time on the PGA TOUR.
And in his first four TOUR starts this season, he’s produced finishes of 13th, T11, T17 and T18. He’s the only player in this week’s Houston Open field to have four top-20 finishes on the season.
Consistency is great, but at the end of the day, Griffin wants the biggest prize. He’s now 18 holes away from grabbing it.
Thanks to a 7-under 65, Griffin enters the final round at the Golf Club of Houston with a one-stroke lead. He’s at 11 under and will play with Mark Hubbard (10 under) in the final twosome on Sunday. Their tee time is 2:45 p.m. ET. Three players – Cameron Tringale, Peter Malanati and last year’s runner-up Beau Hossler – are two shots off the pace.
“I would rather have the win, obviously,” Griffin said when asked to weigh a one-week high versus a season of top finishes. “But quality of life, I would take the consistent year. It’s tough out here when you’re missing cuts and not playing well.
“Everybody goes through those spurts, but it’s frustrating when you finish 60th, too, because it feels like a wasted week. Winning out here is life-changing.”
Two years ago in his first season on TOUR, Griffin was neither winning nor consistent. He made 26 starts and missed the cut in half of them. For the 13 events in which he did reach the weekend, he only produced one top-25 finish – a T-12 at the Farmers Insurance Open.
No surprise that he failed to keep his card after that season, sending him back to the Korn Ferry Tour to hone his game and hoping he made the right decision to keep plugging away.
Shot of the Day
Lanto Griffin's bunker hole-out is the Shot of the Day
“Out here you’re a bad week away from feeling like, ‘Is this what I want to be doing?’ “ Griffin said. “But luckily, those are usually temporary, a couple hours’ thoughts. You wake up the next morning and you’re hungry and you want to be better than you were the day before. You have that feeling of, ‘What was I thinking the day before?’ and “I need to go to the range and practice’ or whatever it may be.
“Two years ago, it was really tough losing my card and three months off to think about it.”
Griffin knew his short game and tee-to-green play needed improvement, so he focused on those aspects. He also worked on his course management, realizing that he doesn’t have to attack every pin. Putting is a big strength of Griffin's, so he figured if he could just give himself some decent looks, a few would fall.
And he soaked in everything – not surprising for a person whose parents named him after a spiritual master. He took the Norman comment to heart, and then this summer he received a putting lesson from Vijay Singh; they both live in the Jacksonville, Florida area and practice at TPC Sawgrass.
A week after getting advice from Singh, Griffin won his Korn Ferry Tour event. “Just got to take all the advice you can,” Griffin said. But then he smiled: “I’m not going to give him all the credit, but it helped.”
At the beginning of this season, Griffin sat down with his coaches and came up with some goals. One was to be in the final group in the final round.
“It’s nice to knock it out week five,” Griffin said.
That goal has now given him an opportunity to win for the first time on TOUR. Those top-20 finishes each week are nice, but it’s time for Griffin to be greedy.