(Reuters) – Quiet achiever Lanto Griffin describes himself as the son of hippies, and he was suitably chilled after emerging with a one-shot lead over fellow American Mark Hubbard in the third round of the Houston Open on Saturday.
After holing a delicate 35-foot bunker shot for birdie at the 17th hole, Griffin finished with a deflating bogey for a nonetheless impressive seven-under-par 65 at Golf Club of Houston.
Griffin has finished in the top 20 in all four events of the new PGA Tour season, without earning many headlines.
But after posting an 11-under 205 total he will have his sights set on Sunday on a breakthrough victory in his 33rd start on tour in an event missing the game’s big names due to its unenviable spot on the schedule, ahead of a three-week Asian swing.
The 31-year-old Griffin, a Florida-based native of California, says a childhood playing a wide range of sports was a good foundation for professional golf.
“I wasn’t a golf nerd growing up,” he told reporters. “I loved baseball, loved soccer and basketball. Unfortunately I wasn’t very good at all three so I started playing golf.
“I think those three (sports) helped me with hand-eye co-ordination and athleticism.
“Around 13 that’s when I really got into golf and I’ve been addicted every since.”
He said he was named Lanto after a spiritual master.
“I’ve never met another (Lanto), never seen one on Google either,” he said.
Hubbard shot 69 to move into second place, a stroke ahead of Peter Malnati, Cameron Tringale and Beau Hossler on a crowded leaderboard.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Daniel Wallis)