PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – “I thought I was done,” said Ben Griffin.
Just two years ago at the age of 24, Griffin ended his life as a budding professional golfer. He gave it a try, trying to qualify for the PGA Tour and minor league circuit, the Korn Ferry Tour, and he wasn’t able to crack it.
Therefore, he felt that it was time to move on with his life, to find a real job.
“I didn’t want to be a golfer anymore,” Griffin recalled Friday after finishing the second round of his first Players Championship as a club captain with a 6-under.
Yes, you read that correctly. Two years after giving up on his dream — temporarily as it turns out — Griffin has earned his PGA Tour card, and with 36 holes in the tour’s signature event, he’s in a tight race to win it.
When play was suspended due to dangerous weather on Friday night, Griffin stood outside the lead. The two leaders, Christian Bezuidenhout and Adam Svensson, were both eight but still had to finish their second run on Friday morning.
In the spring of 2021, Griffin left professional golf behind, took certification exams and became a loan officer at CIMG Residential Mortgage in Chapel Hill, NC
The true moment of destiny changed this course. So much for interest rates and mortgages.
Griffin met a man named Doug Sigh, managing partner of Lord Abbett’s investment firm in Jersey City. Griffin was paired up for nine random holes with Sieg and his daughter, Taylor, at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. Sieg took his daughter there during the COVID-19 pandemic to play some golf.
Sieg was so impressed with Griffin after those nine holes, he offered to support him financially to help him achieve his PGA Tour dream. Griffin, made up for it, politely told Sig that he was sticking with his desk job.
“If anything changes, let me know,” Sage told Griffin.
Months later, Randy Myers, a golf coach from Sea Island who works with Griffin and was an assistant strength coach at Penn State when Sieg played football there, called Sieg and said, “Ben will come back, and he’ll be great.”
Then Sieg spoke to Griffin.
“Ben told me, ‘I can’t see myself doing anything else in the world but playing on the PGA Tour, and I want to do that,’” Sieg told The Post on Friday. “I said, ‘Why don’t you come over?’” [to New Jersey]And we’ll meet. He got into a car and drove off, which took him to Baltusrol. He was over 3 after three holes and had holed nine of the next 11 holes, and I said, “Okay, let’s do this.”
“I’ve never been around a guy who represents himself so well and dreams this big.”
On Friday, Griffin led players at 8-under and didn’t hit a hole in his second round before hitting the 18th. Yet as he was coming off the field, you’d think he’d birded the hole.
“The text he sent me right after the tour said, ‘You can’t believe how great this tour was. I can’t wait until the end of this week. At least I won’t sleep on top. I’ll be ready to go.
“Nothing bothers him. He has such a great attitude.”
Sieg had a similarly deep exchange with Griffin in October after the young golfer finished third in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship after leading the tournament with seven holes to play.
“After about 20 minutes he called me and said, ‘I get up every day and go to a golf course. I’m the luckiest guy in the world,’” Sieg said. “His view of taking time away, in my opinion, really allowed him to focus on himself and understand what is important. ”
The only thing that wiped the everlasting grin from Griffin’s face on Friday came when he listed those who helped make all this possible for him, starting with Sieg and including two other fairway angels, Jesse Ahearn and Mike Swan.
Griffin met Ahearn and Swann while playing a Korn Ferry event in Springfield, Mo. Like Sieg, they were so touched by him that they also wanted to help. They paid to get him into Q School, and they’re damned if he doesn’t get his PGA Tour card.
“They are the only reason I play golf now,” Griffin said. “I will always have that perspective throughout my career on the PGA Tour and it will benefit me moving forward.”
Tears were in Griffin’s eyes now.
When I relayed this touching scene to Sieg, I felt his feelings over the phone.
“It’s very rewarding,” said Sieg. “We have 750 people at Lord Abbey who benefit from watching this incredible dream come true. He’s not afraid to dream big.”
Now, they dream big together.
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