Ask any member of the PGA Tour about what's a better feeling that earning the right to play on professional golf's top circuit in the world — the answer is simple:
Earning the right to stay on the Tour.
Blacksburg High graduate Lanto Griffin, who has now earned a Tour spot twice in the last three years is off to a good start on achieving that goal.
It's early — extremely early! But two weeks into the the 2019-20 season, Griffin is taking care of business.
On Sunday at the Sanderson Farms Championship Griffin finished just outside of the top 10 as a result of shooting his best round of the week — a 6-under 66, which gave him his career-best PGA Tour finish — tied for 11th.
Griffin, who played on the PGA Tour in the 2017-18 season and then earned his card last month after spending 2019 on the Korn Ferry Tour, tied for 12th in the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open — his previous best.
In the first two weeks of the season, Griffin has earned $312,825 and earned 125 FedEx Cup points (that currently ranks him 12th). In the 2017-18 season, Griffin finished with a total of 175 points (a 171st-place finish) and a little under $359,000 in winnings.
In the PGA Tour season that most recently ended, the number of FedEx points needed to qualify for the three-week playoff season was about 375. So there is still work to do, and the competition will become much stiffer once the 2020 portion of the season arrives and more of the world's top-ranked players will begin entering events.
Griffin is in the announced field for this week's tournament the Safeway Open in Napa, California. Tournament officials there believe this will be its strongest field ever, with players such as Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson Dechambeau, Francesco Molinari, Adam Scott, Jimmy Walker, Brandt Snedeker and three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson.
But if you look deeper into Griffin's Tour record, his record is very respectable.
While there is a one-season gap, Griffin has actually been very consistent. Dating back to his missed cut at the 2018 U.S. Open (a couple of three putts on his final holes of Round 2 cost him a weekend tee time there), Griffin has made the cut in his last 10 PGA Tour events.
The difference in the past two events has been better play on the weekends. During his post-U.S. Open tournaments, Griffin averaged 68.4 strokes on the Thursday/Friday rounds. It went up to 70.4 on the weekend — two more strokes per round.
So far this year, the gap has narrowed and dropped. He's averaged 67.5 on the first two rounds and 68.2 in Rounds 3 and 4.
That's the kind of trend that helps you keep your job.
Checking in on McCarthy
Former UVa golfer Denny McCarthy also has had a strong finish to the season. On Sunday, he shot 68 and finished tied for 18th.
McCarthy tied for 31st in last week’s tournament at The Greenbrier, has 69 FedEx points, and $132,300 in winnings so far.
Titan goes to Pebble Beach
Hidden Valley High School golfer Harrison Withers is skipping Monday's River Ridge District championship tournament at Roanoke Country Club due to his invitation to play in the 2019 PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Withers is representing the First Tee of the Roanoke Valley and is one of 78 junior boys and girls who will be teaming up players from the PGA Champions Tour.
The three-round tournament begins Friday and will played at Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills.