Lanto Griffin has hit the ground running in his return to the PGA Tour this season, with four straight finishes in the top 20, but this week he’s gunning for more.
The 31-year-old Griffin bounced back from a double-bogey to wrap up the rain-delayed second round on Saturday morning to shoot 7-under-par 65 and take a one-stroke lead over Mark Hubbard heading to the final round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston in https://golfclubofhouston.com Humble, Texas.
“It was just cold and windy this morning and (the 18th hole) played tough,” said Griffin, who has four pro victories, including two on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour on which he played last season. “I was frustrated and kind of (angry), but I turned it into a positive. It freed me up pretty good.
“My game is the best it’s ever been for sure. I’m playing really smart and my short game has improved a ton. That’s always been my Achilles heel. … It’s been a goal of mine this year (to play solid golf every week). You don’t have to be a hero necessarily to have a good, solid week.
“It’s tough out here when you’re missing cuts and not playing well (but) I would rather have the win, obviously.”
Griffin, who turned things around after a second round 74, birdied three straight holes through No. 5 and collected six birdies on the back nine before making his second bogey of the round at the difficult 18th while posting a 54-hole score of 11-under 205.
Hubbard, another winner on the Korn Ferry Tour last season who also is seeking his first PGA Tour title, made a 19-foot putt on the 17th hole for his third straight birdie and sank a nine-footer to save par on the last hole of a second straight 69.
Cameron Tringale of Mission Viejo and Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita posted 68s and are two shots back in a tie for third with second-round leader Peter Malnati, who managed only a 73 after making two bogeys on the last three holes.
Hossler lost on the first hole to a playoff to Ian Poulter of England in the Houston Open last year.
Rookie Brandon Wu, who helped Stanford win the NCAA Championship in May, carded a 69 and is three back in a tie for sixth with first-round co-leaders Austin Cook (70) and Talor Gooch (72), Carlos Ortiz of Mexico (71), Sepp Straka of Austria (72) and Scott Harrington (72).
Cole Hammer, the 19-year-old sophomore at Texas playing on a sponsor exemption, made the cut on the number despite struggling to a 77 in the second round, and is tied for 54th after a 72 in round three.
Among those missing the cut was tournament favorite Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who totaled 72-74—146 and fell two strokes short of playing the last two rounds.
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