Prior to this week, Canadian Brad Fritsch had not had much luck as of late.
Despite top 15 finishes at the John Deere Classic, Canadian Open, and Wyndham Championship, Fritsch finished the PGA Tour season 151st in points, missing keeping his Tour card for 2015 by one spot. As a result he had to go and try and get in back in the Web.com Tour Finals. His best finish was a tie for 46th in the Chiquita Classic.
As a result it was back to Web.com Q School and the second stage to try and improve his status on the Web.com Tour for 2015. A stretch like that for a season pro like Fritsch would understandably get anyone down, but not Fritsch.
“I think my mindset hasn’t changed, which I think is the best thing that could’ve happened,” said Fritsch, reflecting on his ability to shake off recent disappointments. “I know I’m playing well – the best golf I’ve ever played was probably near the end of the PGA TOUR season – so I can’t get down about dropping down a level. It’s disappointing, but you can’t let it define how you play going forward.”
Instead of going into Q School with the “woe is me” midnset, Fritsch stayed positive and kept his head up and was rewarded with a seven shot victory at the Final Stage of Q School, resulting in fully exempt status on the tour in 2015.
“I tried my best, and I think I did a really good job of just focusing on, ‘I’m going to play golf; I’m not going to worry about where I am or who I’m playing against. I’m playing against Andrew (Landry) and Rhein (Gibson) today in my group, and that’s that. I just have to go play.”
There were times when the veteran thought about calling it quits too and just taking the limited exemption that he had based off of where he finished the 2014 season too. Specifically, Brad mentioned getting ready to start play at the second stage at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.
“On the first day of Second Stage, it was just so cold,” said Fritsch. “You couldn’t warm up for more than five or 10 minutes, because your hands would freeze. I stood against this wall that blocked the wind, and I thought, ‘I already have status out here a little bit; I could go home right now.’ It was miserable, and I thought about it. But I figured, ‘We’re there, so we might as well go play.'”
Good thing he played as well. He finished third at that event which go him to PGA National and then went out and handled the 151 player field in the Final Stage to win.
Even in winning the six day marathon event, nothing came easy. He opened with an even par 72 in the first round before going on a tear in the next three rounds shooting 64-65-65 respectively. Even with those low scores he never really started to break away from the pack until late in the day on Sunday but he just kept firing away and playing his game. Even in Tuesday’s final round, where he entered the day with a five shot lead, he never really backed off. Up six and seven shots and with runner up Andrew Landry and the rest of the field running out of holes, Fritsch continued to play aggressive, firing a pins when simply safely getting on the green and two putting would have been more than enough to secure the win.
“I think executing down the stretch and learning how to build a big lead, learning how to play with a big lead, is important. You can start to play defense, and I didn’t, and I’m happy about that.”
It’s even more important when you consider this was Fritsch’s first win on any professional tour. In fact, it had been so long since Fritsch won a golf event that he had trouble remembering the last time he won when asked about it after his round.
“I think finally winning is great for my mind,” said Fritsch. “Because I was never much of a winner in junior golf, amateur golf, whatever. This is great, because I finally got out to a big, big lead. Usually for me, if I’m in first or second or third with one round remaining, I play an OK round and finish second or third. That’s not terrible, but it was nice to execute in the final round when I had to.”
Despite the win, Fritsch remained humble and down to earth in his post round interview. He credited his caddie for reading his putts throughout the week and joked about how it was tough to watch his hometown Ottawa Senators lose to Buffalo on Monday night.
He will now get to pick his own schedule on the Web.com Tour as he tries to get back to the PGA Tour. There is one big difference between this time and when he did this a few years ago, a trophy to put on his mantle.
— Brad Fritsch (@BradFritsch) December 16, 2014
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