Ben Griffin posted an eagle and seven birdies in his nine-under-par 63 on Friday to seize a two-shot lead midway through the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship.
Griffin, who stepped away from the game to work a desk job in 2021 but returned to secure his Tour card last year, rolled in a 65-foot eagle putt from the fringe at 14 to join a group sharing the lead at 12 under.
He birdied the 15th for the outright lead and rolled in a 15-foot birdie at 17 to pad his advantage, taking his 36-hole total at the Country Club of Jackson to 14-under 130.
“I maybe had one hiccup and was able to get up-and-down. Other than that, I kept the ball in front of me,” Griffin said. “It was just really solid.”
The 27-year-old has yet to win on the PGA Tour. But he’s ranked 66th in the FedEx Cup Fall standings and could hit the top 60 with a victory.
That would qualify him for the Pebble beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational next year.
“You know, this is everyone’s dream,” he said. “It’s rewarding to be in the position I’m in, and it really just comes down to self-belief to be able to get it done this weekend and just keep doing the same stuff. I’ve just got to keep staying strong.”
Australian Harrison Endycott fired a seven-under-par 65 to pace a group of four players on 12-under 132. American Luke List and China’s Carl Yuan both shot 66 and Sweden’s Henrik Norlander posted a 67 for his share of second.
First-round leader Chesson Hadley posted a 69 and was tied at 11 under with Harry Higgs (64), Troy Merritt (65) and China’s Dou Zecheng (66).
Endycott’s round included a hole out the 3rd and three straight birdies to close at the 7th, 8th and, in unlikely style, the 9th.
Endycott’s drive at his final hole hit a power line. Required to take the shot again he “hit probably one of the worst golf shots I think anyone would have hit this week.
“It worked out,” added Endycott, who ended up on a neighboring fairway and hit his approach from there to six feet.”
South Africans Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Erik van Rooyen are both nine-under 135 (T10) after rounds of 69 and 68 respectively on Friday, with Garrick Higgo a further shot behind after firing 66.
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