A lot people moving through Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport can be in a bad mood. Travel will do that to you.
But most people didn’t just shoot 27 under par and win the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Even if his flight has been slightly delayed it’s unlikely that you would have gotten the smile off Brad Fritsch‘s face Tuesday night.
Asked simply how he was doing as he transitioned from Florida to his home and family in North Carolina, “I couldn’t be much better,” was the unsurprising answer from the Manotick, Ontario raised golfer and Rideau View Golf Club member.
After two years playing on the PGA TOUR, where he earned over $1,000,000 in prize money, you might think that earning your way back to the lower level Web.com Tour might not be a big deal for a pro, but Brad is exactly that, a pro. The 37 year-old has a maturity and understanding built on years of grinding for little to no money, where progress was defined by getting better, not by a full bank account.
With his dominating win on Tuesday, Fritsch proved once again that his game is on a positive trajectory. If you don’t think so all you have to do is take to Twitter and read the reaction of his peers. When they are amazed by his seven stroke win, you better pay attention.
For Fritsch his focus was not on glory this week, but just getting the job done. He was trying to climb as high as possible on the Web.com Tour priority rankings. He hit the ceiling.
“I never really hit it in too much trouble,” he says of the six rounds played over the Fazio and Champion courses at PGA National Resort & Spa. “I hit a lot of really, really, good iron shots. I think I had five or six tap ins with a wedge. I played the par fives okay, not great, but I kept wedging it within 6, 8, 10 feet and a couple days I didn’t make those but there were a couple days where I made all of them. When you keep hitting it close that’s where those low rounds come from.”
Just as impressive as his scoring was Brad’s concentration this week. Keeping a lead in any event is tough and when a non-exempt position on the Web.com Tour is the reward for top spot, it would be easy to falter a little.
“I think I did a pretty good job of that. Even when we got ahead by six with two days to go I knew anything could happen. I felt like I just had to go play. The game plan was really good, we just had to execute those shots and I continued to. It’s a good feeling.”
With the $25,000 cheque secured and the bigger prize of being exempt now in his pocket Brad can now begin to look ahead to his next campaign. This time, with total control of his spot on tour.
He says he won’t be taking a lot of time off on the 2015 Web.com Tour. That is with the exception of a long stretch of events during the summer that he will have to figure out where to fit in some rest. He can do it though, without having to check his status all the time. “Rather than setting my schedule it’s more like not worrying about a shuffle, of any kind. I’ve had to deal with that too much the last two years (when his priority ranking was low on the PGA TOUR).”
In the past when Brad has missed a cut he’s had to have a look at the priority ranking and see who else is playing well. He had to worry that they might move past him in the regular reshuffles that determine the order in which players get into tournaments. Now, he says, even if he misses a cut he says he’ll just be able to go back to work and focus on what he needs to do, not worry about somebody else.
With the top 25 on the year end money list as his target, (it would earn his a spot on the PGA TOUR in 2016) Brad says he can be a lot more focussed with the exempt status. “Exactly; I can just commit to every event and never have to look at the field list to see where I am, never have to worry about anything like that.”
Although the Web.com Tour schedule is a full one Brad says he will try and make some time for a few PGA TOUR Monday Qualifiers, if possible, but he won’t do that at the expense of his goal of returning to the PGA TOUR on a more permanent basis.
“I want to try and I want to make sure I don’t focus on the PGA TOUR because that’s not where I am next year. It would be nice to get in a few events but at the same time it’s more important for me to get back there full-time rather than Monday qualifying.”
All signs would indicate that a return to the big tour is achievable for Fritsch. He’s never been the player you’d count out. After all this is same player who was still an eight handicap in high school.
This week, instead of shooting 108 as he did in grade 11 at a high school tournament, he was destroying 108 holes at PGA National. Twenty….seven….under….par.
That’s pretty good fuel to get you through any airport layover.