Lanto Griffin is T-5 at 15 under and three shots shy of the American Express’ 54-hole lead, but that feat is even more impressive than it looks.
Griffin is playing this week with the lingering effects of a back injury he sustained while purposely picking up his dog, Troy.
“It was around 1 a.m. [Troy’s] hips were hurting him a little, so I was trying to carry him up the stairs, I felt a little pop,” Griffin said after his third round 69 at La Quinta. “And it’s just kind of a disc bulge that strikes a nerve and inflammation.”
The incident happened the week before last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii and after several days Griffin’s back has not fully recovered. So he and his caddy decided to pull out of the event at the 11th hour.
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“Saturday night I was supposed to fly to Sony on Sunday morning and I couldn’t really bend over to pack and I called my caddy and I was like, man, 15 hour flight. We got so decided to take it off and i did a lot of PT work and still hit a few balls and took four, five days off that week and came back and yeah i guess that’s a good decision to come out here in the desert and hopefully it holds up tomorrow,” he mentioned.
Despite opening 67, the 33-year-old said he didn’t feel well during his Thursday round at the Nicklaus Tournament Course. In round 2, however, he felt “good” en route to shooting a 7-under 65 on the Stadium Course, but on Saturday his back regressed, saying he felt “in the middle” of the rounds 1 and 2.
And after three grueling days, the Californian is hoping for some rest — and a playoff win for his favorite football team on Saturday night — to get him ready for Sunday’s round.
“I hope tomorrow will be a little more like [Friday] and I’m going to go back tonight and watch my Niners hopefully beat the Packers, he said, “but rest up tonight and get treated and see what happens.”
Nonetheless, his back has come a long way in recent weeks, which is why he’s in contention for his second PGA Tour victory.
“I feel a lot better than I thought and I’m playing a lot better than I thought, so it’s been a really fun week,” he said.