CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Chapel Hill’s Ben Griffin is one of the state’s most decorated junior golfers of all time. Now a professional, Griffin recently returned to the sport after a six-month hiatus from the links.

“Stepping away from the game kind of helped me reset mentally,” Griffin explained. “It got my focus back on playing kind of closer to how I was in Junior Golf.”

It’s hard to imagine Griffin not playing golf. As a youngster, he dominated the junior circuit. He won two state titles at Chapel Hill High School and twice qualified for the U.S. Amateur. In 2011 he won the U.S. Kids Golf Teen-World Championship. At North Carolina, he was a two-time All-American.

Griffin turned pro in 2018 but struggled to find his way on the Korn Ferry Tour. Then, when COVID hit in 2020 and his playing opportunities became fewer and fewer, Griffin quit the game.

“I was kind of struggling a little bit financially and starting to experience a little bit of burn-out,” said Griffin. “I was still playing fine golf but not seeing the work pay off, it was one of those things I had to step away.”

But his love for the game brought him back. All it took was a return to the time when he played the game for fun.

“Now I feel more like I belong and I feel I can do just as well as anyone out there,” said Griffin as he prepares for this week’s Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh. “So just a lot of mindset stuff has been key for me and staying in the moment, enjoying all my experiences and staying positive but at the same time being really motivated and determined to compete.”

It seems to be working. Griffin has two second-place finishes this season and ranks ninth on the Korn Ferry Tour’s official points list. Now he has his sights set on that first professional victory.

“I’m still chasing that win down, hopefully maybe it will come in Raleigh for a hometown event that would be pretty cool, it’s been quite the journey, to say the least,” smiled Griffin.