With an emphatic tweet – “Holy $%&^! I’m on the PGA Tour in 2013!!!!” Brad Fritsch finally released all the emotion of accomplishing the near impossible.
All season long the golfer who crafted his game at the Carleton Golf & Yacht Club and the Rideau View Country Club in the south end of Ottawa had been methodically piecing together an impressive season on the Web.com. The whole time he knew that each dollar brought him closer to status on the PGA Tour.
The final chapter of the year came on Sunday as the 34 year-old gave himself an early birthday gift (he turns 35 on November 9th) closed out the Web.com Tour Championship with a 69 to earn a share for 9th place. It boosted him to 18th place on the 2012 Money List and earned him what he has coveted for thirteen seasons as professional golfer, a PGA Tour Membership Card.
It was a critical round for Fritsch even though he was in 21st place coming into the season-ending event with a top 25 placing the target for PGA Tour membership. Despite the status he said that he still felt he needed to play well as any combination of events could occur that would affect his final placing. He took care of that, and his own fate, with his strong play.
Fritsch was fairly unheralded as an amateur and it has taken a lot of perseverance to get to this point in his career. Beyond a 1999 Alexander of Tunis win and another at the 2000 Ottawa Valley Golf Association City & District Championship few really believed that he had the tools to make a life as a pro golfer but Brad had faith and decided to take his shot. As a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Campbell University in Criminal Justice Administration he had something to fall back on.
He becomes the first player from Ottawa to earn PGA Tour membership. He makes just the fourth player from Eastern Ontario to earn PGA Tour membership. It’s a short list that includes Gary Bowerman (Picton), Jon Mills (Belleville, Deep River) and Matt McQuillan (Kingston).
Starting on the Canadian Tour in 2000, Fritsch carved out a journeyman career that included a three previous seasons on the Web.com Tour. His game, even with a win at the 2006 Azores Open, did not really blossom until he returned to the Canadian circuit in 2010 and 2011. Both those seasons he began a remarkable run of steady play that he carried through to PGA Tour Qualifying in late 2011, earning his place on the Web.com Tour in 2012.
By March this season Fritsch had already recorded two top ten finishes and ultimately he would end the season with seven top-10’s. His best finish was a tie for 2nd at the Mylan Classic in Pennsylvania in early September. The $44,800 he won there boosted him into a solid ranking in the top 25 while three more top 10’s to follow sealed his PGA Tour membership for the very first time. He ended the year with $212,168 earned.
The entire year, in almost every interview, Brad displayed poise and patience in his approach to the season. He was taking every shot at a time, every event as it came, knowing that he just had to pick away and keep earning money. Along his side the entire time was Jeff Scott, his caddy, and the former assistant professional at Rideau View.
Last December, when Brad just missed a PGA Tour Card at Q-School he outlined that strategy. “I look at it this way; I have a full year to get in the top 25, not just six rounds like this week.”
In the end, it worked out pretty nicely.
In conversations Brad has often commented that in his golf career he just needed a break to take things to the next level.
Instead of waiting for it, Brad made his own and next year he’ll get the chance to make the most of it.
Brad Fritsch was almost joined by his roommate at the Tour Championship in earning a spot of the PGA Tour on Sunday. Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin made a remarkable run at the money list by shooting a final round 65. Starting the day in 48th place on the money list his efforts propelled him to 26th. He was sitting in 25th but ultimately a birdie by James Hahn on the 18th hole meant Jim Herman earned the final card available for the 2013 PGA Tour.
Hadwin will automatically advance to the final stage of 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying where the top 25 players will also earn a 2013 PGA Tour card.