He might have been even par after the first 18 holes and facing a long climb, but that did not deter Canada’s Brad Fritsch at the final stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying in Chandler, Arizona on Sunday. He admitted as much on his own Twitter feed, pointing out that he still had three days to get it done. He was right.
Sources say hitting it in the desert 4 times is not conducive to a low score. Slooooooooowing it down tomorrow and hitting it straight(er). 3 days to get it done. @WebDotComTour
— Brad Fritsch (@BradFritsch) December 6, 2018
The 41 year-old buckled down and proceeded to go -24 for the remaining three rounds, closing with a hero-like 62 (-10) in the final stanza to finish in a share of 8th place (72, 66, 64, 62). That will guarantee him at least 12 starts on the Web.com Tour for 2019. It’s eight more than he would have likely had as a past champion on the circuit. His final round flurry pushed him 29 spots up the leaderboard.
Q-School is never easy, but the veteran made it look that way and he says the final three rounds went particularly well. “…obviously had a really good putting week, but it certainly helps when I hit 53/54 greens in the last 3 rounds, and the one I missed was on the fringe. That’s a recipe for low stress,” he shared after the round.
It’s an important step for Fritsch, a member at Rideau View Golf Club, who has played a nomadic schedule for the last year, splitting time between a number of circuits without a high level of status.
He last played a fullish Web.com Tour schedule in 2016 when he suited up at 16 events, earning a win and a second place as his top showings. That gave him a spot on the PGA TOUR for 2017 where he finished 204th in the FedEx Cup standings.
He can now add to his career 151 starts on the Web.com Tour status come January when the Tour resumes on the 13th of the month for two events over two weeks in the Bahamas.
That status means a lot to him, especially at this point in his career, he told us. It marks a massive turnaround in a year that started with a three month TOUR suspension after he self-reported the use of a supplement that he took as part of a weight-loss regimen.
“To play like that for the last three days, and especially today when everything is on the line, it’s gratifying. It tells me that there’s still a lot of great golf in me, into my 40’s. I feel like a young 41 golf-wise, I’ve always been a late bloomer, and to hang tough against all the young talent out there today, it’s just an affirmation. It was a tough 2018 in a lot of ways, career wise, but this brightens it greatly.”
Joining Fritsch as returning players to the Web.com circuit will be fellow Canadians Michael Gligic and Albin Choi.
Gligic, 29, of Kitchener, Ontario, posted -22 for the week to finish in a share of 13th in Arizona. Choi, Toronto-raised but now calling Jupiter, Florida home, earned a piece of 34th at -18.
Each will be guaranteed eight starts for the year when they will be part of the second reshuffle that will determine their Web.com Tour priority ranking. Fritsch will be fully exempt until the third reshuffle. four events later.
Gligic finished 14th on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit in 2018 where he was the Canadian Player of the Year. To date he has made just 11 starts on the Web.com Tour.
Choi was a member of the Web.com Tour in 2018 but made just 8 cuts in 22 starts to finish 100th on the money list. The 26 year-old former Team Canada member has 88 career starts on the circuit.
A fourth Canadian at the Q-School finals, Seann Harlingten of Vancouver, will have conditional Web.com Tour status (with no guaranteed starts) thanks to a t-74 finish at -14.
American Danny Walker was the Q-School medalist at -27. The win earns him $50,000 and full exempt status on the Web.com Tour for 2019.