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January 1, 2020

Lanto Griffin

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Lanto Griffin into the interview room here at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, making his first start at this tournament after winning the Houston Open. I know this is a tournament that as a kid you used to watch. Just talk about being here this week and what it means to you.

LANTO GRIFFIN: Yeah, this is a golf course, Kapalua, growing up -- Tiger Woods, I remember playing it on Tiger Woods a lot, and just the stage, being right around New Year's, the first of the year. In Virginia the weather was cold, school was off. I feel like this is a tournament I've watched probably maybe other than the Masters, maybe the most.

To be here and see how wide the fairways are in person and the views, every hole the views are mindboggling. It's been really cool to be on-site and be part of this tournament.

JOHN BUSH: Talk a little bit about that win in Houston and how it changed your goals going forward this season.

LANTO GRIFFIN: Yeah, complete -- main goal was just to keep my card this year and get some footing on the PGA TOUR, and to win and have a three-year exemption and being in a tournament like the Sentry Tournament of Champions and THE PLAYERS and all that, it's been kind of weird. This is the first week it's really sunk in because the tournaments I played in after Houston, I would have been in regardless. So this is kind of the first tournament walking in, and Xander and Dustin Johnson saying hi and stuff like that, for a guy like me it's a little different than the Korn Ferry TOUR and all the other PGA TOUR events I've played in. This is kind of the first week it's kind of sunk in that I really did win and my life is a little different now.

Q. Lanto, what have you been doing since the, quote-unquote, end of the '19 season?
LANTO GRIFFIN: Yeah, so I left Sea Island, and I thought I was going to take a big break. It was a really long year mentally and physically, and two days later I'm sitting there like, man, I want to go practice. It was weird. I didn't expect to feel that way. But I kind of realized I was burned out from golf but I was more burned out from the travel and the tournaments because I played so many tournaments this year.

So I spent a lot of time at TPC Sawgrass practicing and kind of enjoying golf away from the tournament stress and grind, which a lot of us -- you feel it towards the end of the year, playing tournaments every week, not really having a long break. But it was fun to kind of just practice, spend time with my coach, Todd Anderson, and I played a couple -- I played a pro-junior at TPC. Len Mattiace put on an event. But other than that, just kind of spent time with family and kind of relaxed a little bit.

Q. Is it unusual -- what's the longest you've ever gone without touching a club?
LANTO GRIFFIN: Well, last fall, 2018, I lost my card in the Korn Ferry finals, and I took about two to three months off. That was the first time I've ever taken a break like that. I bought a house, and it was pretty disappointing to lose my card. I really wanted to have another shot at the PGA TOUR, and kind of just got -- felt like I got kind of punched in the gut.

So I took some time off. I didn't want to make swing changes, and three months off from the Korn Ferry, the start of the Korn Ferry season, I was like, if I start practicing now, I'm going to make changes. I felt good about my game, so that was probably the best thing I've ever done in my career was just getting away from it for two or three months. I felt like I had a normal life, not having to wake up and go to the course.

A lot of people don't understand how much we think about our golf swings. Even when you're off the course, you're working on swing changes, you're not hitting it great, you're hitting it good, you're working on short game, whatever it may be, but it was really nice to get away from it and have no thoughts in the head golf-related, so I did a really good job of that last fall and it helped me a lot this year.

Q. What did you do with that time then?
LANTO GRIFFIN: Painted my house. I built a couple walls, I built furniture. You order furniture online, takes eight hours to build a dresser because you don't know what you're doing.

But on that, I realized I don't want to be in construction or in the housing department, so it made me realize golf is pretty cool.

Q. You recently fulfilled the goal of buying your mom a new car. I'm wondering what your new goals are and what you might buy her in the future if you continue on an upward trend.
LANTO GRIFFIN: Absolutely, so we got mom the car around Christmas. I wanted it to be a surprise, so she came down to my sister's house, we did Christmas there, and we had it out in the back of her house with a bow on it, so she was -- she loved it. She's texted me four or five times since then, I still can't believe I have a Subaru. So that's cool.

She's really big into gardening and my brother is, too, so if I could potentially buy them a piece of land with a decent little pad where they can do their gardening -- I'd also like -- she's really good with a lot of different tinctures and the whole holistic thing. I'd love to help her start her own little line of little business. But who knows what'll happen.

A few different goals going down the road. Hopefully I can just make her life comfortable for the rest of her time here.

Q. Any goals maybe on the course this year?
LANTO GRIFFIN: Making it to East Lake. I'd love to be at St. Andrews in 2021. Yeah, I'm aware if you make the TOUR Championship you're in all the majors, all the WGCs. That's the No. 1 goal. But I want to enjoy what I've created. I want to be able to enjoy -- these tournaments are special. Memorial, PLAYERS, Bay Hill, FedExCup Playoffs, it's crazy to be a part of it. So I want to be very -- I'm very focused. I'm very driven inside. I don't really need anybody to push me. But one thing I struggle with sometimes is enjoying the moment, enjoying what I've accomplished instead of always wishing you were doing something else.

Hopefully this year if I miss a couple cuts here or there I can sit back and appreciate what I've done to get here versus why am I not playing better this week, if that makes sense.

Q. Has winning changed the way you practice or prepare for tournaments at all, and do you plan or playing less this year?
LANTO GRIFFIN: It hasn't changed anything. What me and my coaches are doing are the exact same I've done the last couple years, which is the reason why I am where I am now. I always tried to make swing changes and get too technical. So we've done a really good job of focusing very small on the things that I need to work on.

But I will play less. I've talked to Billy Horschel, Vijay Singh, they're both at TPC. They've both been really good mentors. It's different being in tournaments like this and then the Masters, big tournaments because there's more pressure, there's more people. The weeks are longer mentally and physically. Two years ago I played 13 weeks in a row, last year I played nine weeks in a row. I'm not going to be able to do that this year. I'm trying to -- but it's also tough because I don't want to take any of these tournaments off. Every tournament is so special in its own way. But I have to realize that I'm going to be in them for years to come, and I can afford to take a week off. But that's going to be tough. The scheduling is tough for sure.

Q. What were the nine weeks you played in a row?
LANTO GRIFFIN: I played from the U.S. Open through Wyndham. I missed the cut at the U.S. Open and I played Memphis, U.S. Open at Shinnecock, and I played Quicken Loans through Wyndham, and I made every cut. So I made eight cuts in a row, and then I went to the Korn Ferry finals and played out of Columbus. I mean, by week nine it's groundhog week. It's like Monday you fly, you do laundry, Tuesday it's practice round, Wednesday pro-am, and it's just -- it turns into your life just feels like it's the same every week in a different city. It's nice to kind of get away because when you play that many, it's hard to be competitive on the weekends because you're so tired mentally. You don't realize it, you don't want to give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you're exhausted, but there's no way -- looking back, there's no way you can be fresh for six days every single week.

Q. What are you going to do -- what's your schedule this year?
LANTO GRIFFIN: I'm going to play both in Hawai'i. I'm going to take off Palm Springs, so I'm going to fly home Sunday of Sony. I have a week at home, and then I'm going to play Torrey, Waste Management. Waste Management is a bucket list. I love Torrey. I really want to play Pebble. Pebble is going to depend on how -- I want to play WGC Mexico. Depending, I need to be top-10 in FedEx, so if I have that locked up, I might take Pebble off and then play LA, Mexico. I'm taking Honda off, and then I'm going to play Bay Hill, PLAYERS, Valspar, two weeks off, Masters. Until the Masters -- I'm going to play Heritage, too. So I have the first three months pretty planned out.

Q. What if you end up in Match Play?
LANTO GRIFFIN: I was hoping somebody would ask about that. Billy Horschel is a big optimist; he's like, man, you're going to be in Match Play. I'm like, that's not how my mind works. I'm going to try, I'm not saying I can't, but I set my goals pretty -- kind of like right here. So Mexico is my first goal, and then hopefully I can get in Match Play.

But if I get in Match Play then I might take off Tampa, Valspar or something. But the Masters, I want to really enjoy that week, so I want to take off Valero and get up there Saturday before and kind of soak in the week. You never know how many of those you'll play in.

Q. (On Nationwide Children's tournament.)
LANTO GRIFFIN: Honestly one of my favorite -- I mean, who knows. I love that tournament. I love the climate. I love -- but Memorial, I don't mind playing Memorial instead of there this year.

Q. You don't need to play Ohio State to go play Scioto?
LANTO GRIFFIN: My best friend is a member of the Ohio State course, who actually got engaged yesterday. We went ziplining and he proposed to his girlfriend, so now the pressure is on me.

Q. She's waiting?
LANTO GRIFFIN: Yeah, my girlfriend is there. They're very, very good friends, so now I'm getting crap from everybody.

JOHN BUSH: Lanto, we appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.

LANTO GRIFFIN: Thank you, guys.

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