TOC preview: Griffin gains confidence from play
Benjamin Griffin offered few words to describe shooting a 61 in the first round of the Dogwood Invitational last week.
Simply put, it was perfect.
“There’s not much to say about it, everything just went in. I hit putts, hit every green in regulation – I played the perfect round of golf,” Griffin said.
Griffin, No. 14 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, heads into the Rolex Tournament of Champions on the cusp of a tournament victory. He’s finished in the top-six in four out of the past five tournaments he’s played, including a medalist finish in U.S. Open local qualifying.
Shooting a 61 last week may just push him over the top.
“I’m very confident; the 61 helped tremendously,” Griffin said. “The Rolex looks like it will be in great condition and the greens will be good. So there will likely be some great scoring opportunities and hopefully I can keep it going.”
If Griffin earns a finish at the top of the leaderboard at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, which is set to take place at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club July 8-12, it will be thanks to his short game.
“Most of the time, my short game saves me. Last week, I putted pretty well, but I started hitting it a lot better.”
While Griffin’s putter is typically his best tool, he can turn some heads with other clubs.
Griffin stroked a 4-iron on the par-3 16th at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in April. He aced the 217-yard hole, scoring the first hole-in-one in tournament history.
Between shooting a 61 and an ace in the span of two months, Griffin could bring some more magic to the Rolex next week.
He’ll be facing a star-studded field. With 97 AJGA champions taking the course, Griffin will be facing plenty of golfers on hot streaks. Brad Dalke, ranked No. 5 by Golfweek, approaches the tournament as the runner up in 2012.
From the girls division, Karen Chung will look to avenge a sudden-death playoff loss in last year’s tournament. She’s notched four top-10 finishes this season.
Other notables in the field:
• Matt Gilchrest will take the course following a winning performance at the FootJoy Invitational in which he shot three rounds in the 60s.
• Golfweek’s No. 2, 7 and 8 junior golfers Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Champ and Jorge Garcia, respectively, will all partcipate in the field. Scheffler and Champ recently played as teammates in the Junior Golf World Cup in Japan.
• Collin Morikawa has two top-10 in as many weeks. Morikawa won the Western Junior on June 21 and finished ninth at the FootJoy Invitational the week before.
• Casey Danielson, Golfweek’s No. 3 junior, took third place last year, and comes into this year’s competition with top-10 finishes at both the Thunderbird International Junior and the Rolex Girls Championship.
• Sierra Brooks comes heads into the Rolex Tournament of Champions fresh off of a runner-up finish at the AJGA Golf Pride Junior Classic.
• Alison Lee is Golfweek’s No. 1 girl’s junior golfer and has multiple victories this season.