Brad Fritsch Earns His Way Back To Nationwide Tour

Brad Fritsch will be a full-time member of the Nationwide Tour in 2012 (File photo: Dave Martin, Getty)

It’s been a long year of golf for Brad Fritsch but he’s happy to be ending it on a very positive note.  The 34 year-old who honed his game on the fairways of Carleton Golf &Yacht Club and Rideau View Golf & Country Club in Manotick, Ontario will be returning to the Nationwide Tour in 2012.  This, thanks to a pressure-deflecting performance at the PGA Tour Final Qualifying where a final round of 69 assured him that he would be moving forward next year and not once again treading water on the professional feeder tours. Also earning their way on to the Nationwide Tour on Monday were fellow Canadians, and Canadian Tour players, Ryan Yip of Calgary and Stuart Anderson of Sooke, B.C.

This will be the fourth go-round for Fritsch on the Nationwide Tour, having enjoyed full status in 2007 and 2008 and non-exempt standing in 2009.  The opportunity to work his way back up the ladder was a welcome one at the start of his six rounds and he was not terribly upset that he fell slightly short of PGA Tour status afterwards. Completing play in a tie for 38th place; he was but two strokes back of earning a spot on the PGA Tour.

“It turns out I had a good chance today,” a rather tired sounding Fritsch told us by phone from La Quinta, California. “It’s a little disappointing but overall it’s pretty good.  You don’t really know when you are out there how close you are and even when you see the scores you still don’t know,” he said, referring to the PGA Tour cut line that eventually fell at eight under par.

“I got off to a bad start today with, making just a par on 11 (Brad started on the 10th hole for his final round) which is a pretty easy hole and then I hit it in the water on 12 and had to make a 20 footer just for bogey.  I played really solid after that.”

In 426 strokes Fritsch says he can count his mental mistakes over the six rounds “on about one hand” and that left him somewhat satisfied, although his disastrous front nine in his 4th round, where he shot 43, was not quite as welcome.  “I hit is so differently for those nine holes.  It was really tough at the time with the wind blowing hard but it felt like things were crashing around me.  I’m just glad I was able play better on the back nine that day to hold it together.  I guess I played 99 good holes this week so that wasn’t too bad.  Besides that bad nine I think I was even par or better for every other nine.  I played a lot of good golf for a long time.”

Despite not achieving the ultimate goal of status on the PGA Tour Brad says he is very content with returning to the Nationwide Tour.  “I look at it this way, I have a full year to get in the top 25, not just six rounds like this week,” he said in reference to the position he will need to be in on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2012 to automatically advance to the PGA Tour.  “Like a friend said, ‘if you had been offered this six months ago, would you have taken it?’ I sure would have.”

As for the golf season that will start next February, Brad says he will try and get off to a fast start.  “I guess we’ll be starting in South America and I’ve had some success there so that’s good,” he stated, adding that he expects to play as much as possible early to get himself in a good position before the reshuffle of player rankings.

With qualifying school complete Brad will now return home to Holly Springs, North Carolina to see his wife and daughter for a little celebration.  He got an early start on that with other members of his immediate family since his father Brian and mother Carrie were in attendance at La Quinta.  “It was great to have them here,” Fritsch conveyed.

Brad also says he received a wonderful outpouring of support during the past week and is thankful for it.  “It was pretty cool, just the variety of people that were passing on texts and best wishes.”

On Tuesday morning Fritsch will head for San Diego to start the journey home, with just one slight change in his plans – he splurged an extra $140 bucks for an upgrade to a first class ticket.

After the most stressful week of tournament golf possible and earning his way back to the Nationwide tour, it would be hard to fault him for that well-deserved reward.