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Despite injury from picking up his dog, Lanto Griffin in American Express hunt

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Lanto Griffin is T-5 at 15 under and three shots off The American Express' 54-hole lead. But that feat is even more impressive than it reads. 

Griffin is playing this week with lingering effects from a back injury that he received from voluntarily picking up his dog, Troy. 

"It was about 1 a.m., [Troy's] hips were hurting him a little bit, so I was trying to carry him up the stairs, felt a little bit of a pop," Griffin said following his third-round 69 at La Quinta. "And it's just kind of a bulging disk hitting a nerve and some inflammation."

The incident occurred the week before last week's Sony Open in Hawaii and after several days, Griffin's back didn't fully recover. So he and his caddie decided to pull out of the event at the 11th hour. 

Full-field scores from The American Express

"Saturday night, I was supposed to fly to Sony Sunday morning and I couldn't really bend over to pack and I called my caddie and I was like, man, 15-hour flight? So we decided just to take it off and I got a lot of PT work done and still hit some balls and took four, five days off that week and got back and, yeah, I guess it's a good decision to come out here to the desert and hopefully it holds up tomorrow," he said. 

Despite an opening 67, the 33-year-old said he didn't feel great during his round Thursday at the Nicklaus Tournament Course. On Day 2, though, he felt "great" en route to firing a 7-under 65 on the Stadium Course, but Saturday his back regressed, saying it felt "in the middle" from the first and second rounds. 

And after three taxing days, the Californian is hoping some rest — and a playoff win from his favorite football team on Saturday night — gets him right for Sunday's round. 

"Hopefully, tomorrow's going to feel a bit more like [Friday] and I'll go back tonight and watch my Niners hopefully beat the Packers, he said, "but get some rest tonight and get some treatment and see what happens."

Nevertheless, his back has come a long way the past few weeks, which is why he's in contention for his second PGA Tour win. 

"It's feeling a lot better than I thought it would and I'm playing a lot better than I thought I would so it's been a really fun week," he said.