Pro Who Stepped Away From Golf 18 Months Ago Leads PGA Tour Event

Back at the start of 2021, Ben Griffin stepped away from the game and worked as a loan officer. Now, he sits tied at the top of the leaderboard going into the final round at the Bermuda Championship

Griffin hits a driver off the tee
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite the 2022/23 PGA Tour season being just seven events old, we have already been treated to a number of fantastic stories. After his defence of the CJ Cup, Rory McIlroy moved back to World No.1, while the performances at the Presidents Cup and Shriners Children's Open has cemented Tom Kim as a future star within the game of golf.

And now, at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, there is yet another feel good story in the works as, with just 18 holes remaining, Ben Griffin sits tied at the top of the leaderboard with Seamus Power. You may ask what is so special about this? Well, just over 18 months ago, Griffin was working full-time as a mortgage loan officer after not earning status on the Korn Ferry Tour or the PGA Tour. 

Stepping away from the game at the beginning of 2021, the American worked as a loan officer for a mortgage group in North Carolina during the spring and summer of that year. The now 26-year-old admitted his step away from the game "was a combination of burnout, a little bit from COVID and then also financially, I didn't want to rely on my parents anymore for everything."

He went on to explain that "during Covid, I didn't have status on the Korn Ferry Tour or the PGA Tour and it's very difficult unless you have sponsors or a support system that can kind of help you get back."

Earning his 2022/23 PGA Tour card with a No. 15 finish on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, Griffin credits "all of my success this last year and really the month or two to my sponsors, Lord Abbett. The CEO Doug Sieg, he was crucial in my comeback." 

He added "without him I wouldn't be playing golf right now. All of these really cool people have stepped in my life. Mike Swann, Jesse Ahearn, guys out in Springfield, Missouri, those guys all supported me and paid for my Q-School last year to get through Korn Ferry."

Ben Griffin holds his PGA Tour card

Griffin secured his PGA Tour card after five top 10s and three runner up finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Shooting rounds of 65, 64 and 66, Griffin sits at 18-under-par alongside PGA Tour winner Seamus Power. In his press conference, Power was asked about Griffin's story and whether he felt like ever quitting the game, with the Irishman stating: "It's a tough game and look, it's an individual sport and individual sports have their ups and downs. 

"When it's going well, it's great, but when it's going against you, it's tough, but I've always loved the game. You have some low points, absolutely. (There are) Stretches you just feel like making a cut is just an absolute achievement, but I think that's what makes it such a fun game. It's days like today where things go your way and that makes up for those days. 

"I've never come to that point (walking away), but I can certainly see and I've known guys, I played mini tours for four years and I had players I saw much better than me. It's not for everyone. As I said, I'm kind of lucky enough. You can just try to stay optimistic and remember the good times because you have plenty of those, but it's easy to get stuck on the downside."

Looking for his first PGA Tour victory, as well as a $1.17 million paycheck, Griffin's mind is focused solely on one thing... "Now that I have this little bit of freedom, I can go out there and just try to win golf tournaments. 

"You see the best players in the world kind of have that mindset and it's because they're not thinking about anything except trying to win. When I came back to golf, all my sponsors and everyone has allowed me to think about winning. I haven't won in the last year, I've had a lot of second place finishes and been in contention a lot. I feel like my time's coming pretty soon and hopefully I can get it done tomorrow."

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x