Q&A with Lanto Griffin

 

  • Virginia Commonwealth University alum Lanto Griffin captured his first Tour win via a playoff at Nashville Golf Open benefiting the Snedeker Foundation. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)Virginia Commonwealth University alum Lanto Griffin captured his first Tour win via a playoff at Nashville Golf Open benefiting the Snedeker Foundation. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)

Sitting atop the hill adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge, Lanto Griffin takes a much-deserved break.

He’s been on the road for the last nine weeks, winning the Nashville Golf Open benefiting the Snedeker Foundation and not missing a cut since then. The win came after he missed six of seven cuts prior to that week in July, but since the win, his weekends haven’t really allowed him to return home or take a break.

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Griffin, who was on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica a year ago, has his sights set on the PGA TOUR (as he sits 23rd on the money list) but there is no real time to rest on his laurels.

Except, of course, to take in a little bit of the scenery near the most beautiful bridge in the world and to chat with PGATOUR.com.

Here Griffin lets us in on his season so far, where the guitar trophy is that he won in Nashville, and what the cooking aficionado likes to make when he’s home in the kitchen.

How would you describe your season so far?

A lot of it comes down to getting comfortable in a setting and confidence. Wichita made me feel good. I had two bad rounds there but I still finished 19th, which locked me up for the rest of the year. After that I felt like ‘I could do this.’ Instead of going out there trying to make a cut to get into the next event or rest of the year… I’m trying to win each tournament. Just a different mindset and a comfort level is there.

How did it feel to have your mindset change so quickly after your win?

It’s been really interesting how my mindset has gone from hoping to be in each event and just playing, to now… I finished 16th last week (at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae) and I was pretty disappointed. I finished 14th in Omaha and I was still happy, but I feel like I had given up some opportunities. I look back to Nashville and where I’ve been and I’m grateful. I know a lot of guys would like to be where I was.

 Have your goals changed as the season as chugged along?

It’s interesting once you achieve a goal. My main goal at the beginning of the year was just to lock my card up but as soon as you do that, your goals change. At the beginning of the year if I had finished 16th, I would have been stoked (laughs). But last week I finished 16th, and I was like, ‘God, man… what could have been.’ It’s just a mindset. I look at say, Jordan Spieth. He won two majors his first year and I can imagine the last couple years have been tough for him. People probably think he’s got all the money in the world and those two majors, but in your mind you’re like, ‘what have you done for yourself lately.’ The 25 is my No.1 goal, and I really want to take a week off but I’m not going to until I get to the $160,000 mark. If I can have a good week this week, like a top-8, I’ll take off next week and get some rest before Portland. It’s a ton of pressure (right now). I feel more pressure now than I did on the back nine in Nashville on Sunday. It’s a little different now. There are so many variables right now and it’s been a lot… six weeks in a row after winning. I mentally haven’t really had a day off.

 So playing tourist in San Francisco came at a good time?

It did. My girl is out here and we stayed at the Fairmont last night, that hotel is really cool. The last 12 hours have been really great.

You’re from California, correct?

I was born in Mount Shasta; it’s about six hours north of San Francisco. It’s closer to Portland, about an hour from the Oregon border.

Do you feel like you’re a West Coast guy?

I moved when I was four-and-a-half and I haven’t been back much. I’d like to because I have family friends out there. All of our extended family was in Florida and New York so we moved out (to the East Coast) when I was young. I love California… such a laid back atmosphere. But I’ve got so used to Virginia and Florida I’m probably more of an East Coast guy.

What drew you to Virginia Commonwealth University?

I grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Virginia Tech is. I didn’t really start playing tournaments until I was 13 or 14, so my resume didn’t really draw me to big schools. But the only school I wanted to go to was Virginia Tech. The coach didn’t offer me a scholarship, there wasn’t one available the year I was eligible. The VCU coach offered me a full ride for four years and told me I’d be playing right away and it was only three-and-a-half hours from where I lived. It was the best thing to happen to me. I learned work ethic there. My teammates worked so hard in the gym and practicing. Growing up, my friends in high school were goofing around. I knew I had the talent and I thought I was working hard in high school, then I got to college and realized it takes a lot more than just showing up and going to the gym for 10 minutes and hitting a few balls (laughs). My teammates helped me learn how to work hard. It ended up being a really good thing for me.

And you met Rafael Campos there, too?

Yeah! Freshman year, I remember vividly him arriving and his Mom helping him move in and driving us to Costco to buy a whole bunch of stuff (laughs). We lived together in a little two-bedroom loft apartment about a quarter mile from campus. We played all four years together. He literally hasn’t changed a bit.

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Lanto Griffin and fellow Tour player Rafael Campos were roommates and teammates at Virginia Commonwealth University. (Courtesy of Lanto Griffin)

The trophy you won at the Nashville Golf Open (a guitar) is arguably the coolest trophy on Tour…

I would agree.

…What have you done with it?

I haven’t even seen it yet. They had to mail it to Dallas to get it engraved, and then they shipped it to my Mom’s house. I moved into my new condo in January and I literally have one clock on my wall right now and no other wall art. It’s been nine weeks in a row on the road and as soon as I get home I’m taking that baby down to Ponte Vedra and sticking that thing on my wall. That will be the first piece of wall art and it’ll look pretty cool. I have plenty of walls for that guitar.

Do you play guitar?

What’s cool is that I played with Mark Bryant from Hootie & The Blowfish at the BMW (Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation) and I sent him a picture of it. We texted a couple times afterwards and he was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! I’ll definitely teach you how to play guitar on that thing.’ I’m going to go take a guitar lesson on it from the lead guitarist of Hootie & The Blowfish, I’m not going to say no to that.

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Lanto Griffin’s win in Music City came after making the cut on the number. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)

Away from the golf course, where can we find you?

Usually when I’m home I just like hanging out with friends. I like to cook a lot and work out. It’s hard to work out when you’re so tired from flying and on the road, so usually it’s just stretching. And now that I live in Ponte Vedra, I’ll head to the beach. We eat out every night on the road so when I get home I like to cook… I’m pretty good in the kitchen. Hang out with friends and not touch golf clubs, and binge-watch some Dateline shows or something (laughs). We’re gone so much it’s nice to see your friends and just chill.

How did you get so good in the kitchen?

It’s fun cooking for other people. I grew up in a big family, four kids, and we couldn’t afford to go out and eat. I was always helping my mom and dad in the kitchen. Now it’s nice. You meet a girl and instead of taking her out to a restaurant you can cook for her (laughs). It’s been fun to get into the kitchen and try out new stuff.

Do you have a signature dish?

I have this salmon recipe. I got it from my friend in Sweden. It’s like a Cajun cream thing. It’s very high calorie. White wine, heavy cream, and chili sauce and you put a bunch of spices and cheese. It doesn’t taste like salmon but it’s my go-to. It might be the first thing I make when I get back home.