Languishing in 70th place on the Web.com Tour money list, Manotick, Ontario’s Brad Fritsch needed a little boost for the last two events of the regular season.
“I’ll admit I was sweating the playoffs,”Fritsch shared in a call Sunday evening, referring to the fact only the top 75 money winners on the Web.com Tour advance to play in the final events and he might not be participating if something didn’t change.
When the 37 year-old made it home to Canada this past Monday to play the Rideau View Golf Club Pro-Am he lamented that although his ball-striking had been exceptional, his shortest club in his bag, the putter, had simply been atrocious.
“I think I only chipped once last week,” he joked of his play at the Price Cutter Charity Classic that ended the day prior.
He was exaggerating of course – but only slightly. On a tour where the average mark for greens in regulation is 76% he had knocked off an 88% clip that week. The issue was that he mixed in an average of 1.889 putts per green. 1.751 is the Tour average. The result? A tie for 62nd. Not acceptable for a player in need of more.
The hard-working pro (he is on a streak of 13 weeks in a row of the play after his planned “off weeks” converted into appearances at the U.S. and Canadian Opens) turned to his coach Patrick Kelley for a little help on the greens.
The result was a tie for second place at the News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tennessee at -16 (69, 68, 64, 67) along with Si Woo Kim of South Korea.
American Patton Kizzire won with a -20 total.
“You know I’m the kind of guy that I’ll tinker if I miss a couple putts in a row,” reflected Fritsch on the club that has been his achilles heel at times. “I had my coach come out this week and we broke it all down.”
The pair looked at a time when Brad putted his best (in 2012 when he earned his way on to the PGA TOUR from the Web.com Tour) and they targeted that stroke.
“The first two days I did not make a whole lot, but yesterday and today even the putts I missed I hit them on the lines I wanted, with the speeds I wanted,” commented Fritsch who returned to a more rhythmic style of putting . “It’s nice to feel you have a chance on all the 10 to 15 footers, the ones you have to make.”
For Fritsch’s third top-ten finish of the year (and best to date this season) the former PGA TOUR member picked up $48,400. It brings his 2015 earnings to $113,070 and puts him at 35th place on the money list.
To say the least he’s pleased with the positive move. “I was kind of surprised I jumped up that much,” he noted with palpable relief in his voice.
He’s also now eagerly anticipating the Tour’s last regular season event, the $800,000 WinCo Foods Portland Open where the style of play should be more in his wheelhouse. “I’ve heard it’s a course (Pumpkin Ridge GC) where a little higher score will win, a little harder. That suits me more; I’m looking forward to it.”
The top-75 players on the Web.com Tour money list after Portland will advance to the four Web.com Tour Finals events where they will join members of the PGA TOUR and compete for status on the 2016 PGA TOUR.
Of course Fritsch can assure himself a return to the PGA TOUR next week with just his play in Portland. If he can earn enough money there to finish in the top 25 Web.com Tour money leaders the playoffs will take on a new dimension – he’ll have status on the PGA Tour for 2016 and he’ll simply be fighting for his place in the player priority rankings.
Making the Web.com Tour playoffs will mean four more weeks on the road for Fritsch but you won’t find him complaining about an extension to the gruelling season. It’s one he has earned with notable effort to address the weaknesses in his game.
Of the new possibilities brought on by the extended effort this week, Brad was concise in what it means to him.
“That’s what we play for; what we work for.”
Indeed, it is and the “W” word is not one Brad Fritsch has ever been afraid of.
Like anybody who has ever earned their way to the PGA TOUR, he knows it is one of the main things that separates players who dream about being on TOUR and actually get there.
…and he’s doing whatever it takes to earn his way back.