Former Ram Lanto Griffin has advanced to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open.

PINEHURST, N.C. – Lanto Griffin is one step closer to the U.S. Open.

The 2010 VCU graduate fired a 3-under 69 and placed third to earn one of eight qualifying spots among a field of 117 Monday during U.S. Open Local Qualifying on the Pinewild Country Club Magnolia Course. Griffin birdied his final hole to avoid a playoff and secure his sectional berth.

“The golf course yesterday was long and very demanding off the tee, so I knew the scores wouldn’t be great,” Griffin said Tuesday. “My goal was anything in the 60’s because I felt 70 would be a playoff and I ended up being right.”

Griffin, a Blacksburg, Va. native, will advance to the sectional qualifying round June 4 in either Columbus, Ohio or Rockville, Md. The number of U.S. Open bids available at each site is determined by the size and strength of the field. Griffin also reached the 36-hole sectional last year, but fell short after carding 71-75 in Rockville.

Now, the 2009 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year will get another shot.

“Chasing the U.S. Open is big because it’s our national open. The history speaks for itself and the opportunity to advance my career by competing on that stage is extraordinary.”

Since graduating from VCU with a degree in marketing, Griffin has been cutting his teeth on the EGolf Professional Tour. In 2011, he scored four top 10 finishes and netted more than $41,000 in earnings. He’s off to a good start in 2012 as well, placing second at the Forest Oaks Classic in April and fourth at the Irish Creek Classic in March.

In 2011, Griffin qualified for his first PGA Tour event, the Wells Fargo Championship, after shooting 65 in an 18-hole qualifier.