Golf

Former caddie Lanto Griffin earns $1.78m with his first PGA title

Six years ago, Lanto Griffin had less than US$200 (S$270) in his bank account, so he decided to caddie for his friend and fellow pro golfer Willy Wilcox.

The move paid off, as the pair became a successful team and Griffin was able to replenish his savings and continue his dream of playing full-time on the PGA Tour.

Fast forward to yesterday morning (Singapore time) as the 31-year-old Griffin claimed his maiden PGA title, two-putting 18 to close with a three-under 69 and win the Houston Open by one stroke.

"I just knew that even if I made bogey, I would still have a job out here next year," said Griffin, of California. "I am so proud of the way I hung in there."

Griffin came into the fourth round with a one-shot lead and made five birdies yesterday to finish with a 14-under 274.

He told his mother, Julie, that he would buy her a new car if he won - and, after earning US$1.3 million (S$1.78m) in first-place prize money, he will make good on that promise.

"There's too many people (to thank). My entire team," said Griffin, who lost his father when he was 12 to brain cancer and likes to say it took an entire village to raise him.

"I learned you don't have to win. If you put all that pressure on yourself, it can backfire. Thinking like that helps me take the pressure off."

He finished one stroke ahead of Scott Harrington and Mark Hubbard, who shot 67 and 69 respectively.

Griffin, who earned a two-year exemption on the Tour with his win, was forced to play on the lower Korn Ferry Tour last year in an attempt to earn his PGA card.

He won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018 and 2017, but never won an event as a college player. - AFP

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