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Just 45 days after suffering a stroke, former Ram Steve Gilley advanced to the sectional stage of U.S. Open qualifying.

Steve Gilley probably assumed the 55 he shot in 2005 would be the most memorable round of golf in his life. But that’s not true anymore.

In May, former VCU golfer Steve Gilley, 40, fired a 3-under 69 at U.S. Open qualifying at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas just 45 days after suffering a stroke. The round advanced Gilley into the sectional stage of U.S. Open qualifying Monday in Houston. He had tried, and failed, to qualify 13 times prior to his 69 at Miramont.

On the morning of March 31, he was on the second fairway at his home course in The Woodlands when he realized that he couldn’t see the green 150 yards away. He tried to press on, but quit when he realized he had no feeling or grip pressure in his right hand.

“It was really scary,” he said of the diagnosis. Men in their early forties don’t have strokes, or so he assumed.

Hospitalized for the better part of a week with IVs and oxygen and one test after another, Gilley wasn’t sure he would regain function in his right arm. His doctor told him that if all went well he might play golf again, but not at a high level.

“You don’t play golf for a living, do you?” the doctor asked.

“Well, yeah, I have for the last 15 years,” Gilley said. “It’s all I’ve done.”

“You probably won’t be able to do that anymore,” he was told.

Gilley, a native of Eden, N.C. played at VCU from 1993-94. He’s currently the assistant golf course superintendent at The Woodlands Country Club in Houston, Texas. In addition to his day job, Gilley has played golf professionally on a number of smaller tours, the Hooters and Nationwide, to name a couple, for the better part of the last 15 years. In 2006, he won his first Hooters Tour event and finished eighth on its money list.

Prior to his recent post-stroke gem, Gilley’s career highlight was the 55 he carded at Lynwood Golf and Country Club in Martinsville, Va., the lowest verified round recorded on a regulation course.

Here’s Houston TV station KHOU’s take on Gilley’s recent feat.


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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.

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