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Griffin, Hall surprised to be in contention at Shriners Open

After opening with a 1-over 72 on Thursday at the Shriners Children’s Open, Lanto Griffin thought he knew what his Saturday would be like. He had a flight booked to Miami and a lay-back seat for the long flight from Las Vegas.

“I was going to watch football and have a couple of bourbons on the way home,” he said.

But Griffin found something on TPC Summerlin on Friday, shot a 7-under 64 to make the cut on the number, then added another 64 on Saturday to put himself in contention, five shots behind leader Adam Schenk.

It’s been a while since Griffin has had something to play for on Sunday with his last top-10 finish coming in January at Torrey Pines. His lone victory came two years ago this week in Houston.

“Any time you make the cut like that there’s really two ways to look at it,” Griffin said after a round that finished well before any of the leaders had teed off. “One, you can come in just thankful to be here for the weekend. I tried to have the mindset that I’m playing well and I’m off early before the wind, fresher greens and if I put up a good number early on Saturday (then) I got a chance on Sunday.”

He knows it’s a long shot, and he knows it will take something special.

“If I can get out there and shoot another 64 tomorrow that would be nice to finish with three of those,” he said.

Hall hangs tough

Harry Hall remains in the picture after 54 holes, holding up well under the pressure of PGA Tour golf on Saturday with a 3-under 68.

The Korn Ferry Tour player from Las Vegas stands at 14-under 199 after three rounds, four shots back.

“The emotions were good. I was comfortable out there,” he said.

After his only birdie on the front nine at No. 9, Hall nearly let the round get away from him with bogeys at Nos. 11 and 12. But he bounced back with three straight birdies, then added another on the 18th when his approach landed less than a foot from the cup.

“That was nice,” he said of the tap-in to finish.

Hall will play with Adam Hadwin in one of the final groups Sunday, chasing a PGA Tour title and PGA Tour playing privileges with a win. A top-10 finish will get him into the Bermuda Championship in three weeks.

Slow starts

Moving day was more like spin your wheels and stay in place on the front nine on Saturday. Players blamed a change in wind direction and some tough pin placements for the lack of birdies early in their rounds.

“There were a few pins out there that were maybe a little questionable with the breezy conditions,” said Matthew Wolff, who made eight straight pars to open his round.

The wind and the pin placements caused most to play conservatively, said Hall, who also parred the first eight holes.

“A lot of the times you’re playing away from pins or making sure that you didn’t miss it in the worst spots,” Hall said, “and when you do that, then most of the time you’re going to make a sensible par.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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