Lanto Griffin is headed to the PGA Tour in October thanks to a 22nd place finish on the Web.com Tour Regular Season Money List.
Sixteen years ago as a seventh-grader at Blacksburg Middle School, Lanto Griffin authored a story on what he hoped to be one day in life.
The jist of Griffin’s words?
“I want to be on the PGA Tour, that’s where I want to be,” he wrote. “I have a lot of fun playing in front of a crowd and playing at the highest level.”
Holding steady in the intense pressure of Sunday’s last round of the Web.com Tour’s regular-season finale Portland Open, the 2010 VCU graduate carded an even-par 71 to snare his big-league card. His tie for 43rd in the tournament enabled him to finish No. 22 in the final regular-season money standings. The top 25 money-earners all earned their PGA Tour cards.
Coming off the 18th green at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Witch Hollow Course, Griffin immediately strode to his mother, Julie, for an emotion-filled hug.
“I definitely cried after 18 today. … It kind of all hit me then!” said Griffin, speaking via cellphone from the course located in North Plains, Oregon, a 20-minute drive west from Portland.
“There have been so many hours when I’ve thought about doing something else … getting a job. I mean this is hard to make happen.
“Playing mini-tours and traveling all the time, it’s hard to even think about having a family. You’re 29 years old and you’ve made 10 grand on the year. I mean, you’re not sure if you’re going to get in the tournament the next week.”
Griffin’s season on the Web.com got off to a very slow start. He failed to make the cut in seven of his first 11 events, with his best finish being a tie for 55th in the Louisiana Open in late March.
All has changed since July 2, when he won the Nashville Open, capturing a $99,000 check. The success triggered a run of nine straight cuts that kept moving Griffin up the money list heading to Portland.
“Yeah, it’s just out of a dream,” Griffin said. “It really won’t sink until after the tournament is over when they pass out the PGA Tour cards.
“I mean pretty much since I was 12 years old, every shot I hit and every 12-hour drive to the first stage of PGA Tour School and every mini-tour event, … it has been a grind for seven years, and asking people for money and being broke and being in credit-card debt, it kind of seems worth it now, I guess.”
Griffin said before heading to Oregon that a top-20 finish would lock up his card. He started strong and was tied for third heading into Saturday’s third round, in which he chopped up the back nine and shot 75 to plummet to a tie for 33rd.
In the end, though, he was good enough. His workmanlike final-round of even par officially was good enough.
“Being on the PGA Tour, man! It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the PGA Tour on TV. I bet I’ve spent thousands of hours watching Tour event and just dreaming of being out there and playing.
“And now to think I’m going to be playing Pebble Beach next year so, man, I feel like I’m ready. I feel like I can compete out there.”