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Fritsch Plots His Way To Contention at Bay Hill

Brad Fritsch is in the hunt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (File Photo: Lenny Ignelzi)
Brad Fritsch is in the hunt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (File Photo: Lenny Ignelzi)

(Round two update – Brad shot even par, 72, on Friday and will have two more days to climb the leaderboard at Bay Hill.  It is his 7th cut made in 9 starts as a PGA Tour member)

Last Thursday Brad Fritsch’s second child was born unexpectedly early as he was playing the first round of the Tampa Bay Championship.   While welcomed, it meant that Fritsch was not able to be there to greet his new son as he and wife Megan had hoped.

In a way, it worked out as Brad missed the cut at Innisbrook and made his way home to North Carolina to share some precious family moments with Megan, daughter Hannah, and the latest addition, Jesse Paul, over the past weekend.

Like his new son, Brad says he has found himself swaying from “the plan” a little bit of late, but it’s been his golf game, not his timing, that has been the problem.

As a 35 year-old PGA Tour rookie he knows from experience that even with a good start to the season (he’s earned $232,655 and made 6 of 8 cuts), he needs to be on task to compete at the highest levels of the game.

It seems he got his focus back on Thursday during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

“I had a good game plan and executed the majority of my shots really well today,” he conveyed to Flagstick after posting a four under par, 68, that sees him in a share of third place heading into round two. “That’s something I’d been struggling with, just executing the smart shots.  So today was a nice day; putted fairly well and got up and down on each missed green.”

Despite Justin Rose touring the course in 65 strokes on Thursday to take the lead, the Bay Hill Club & Lodge is no pushover.  Only 39 players broke par on day one with many players soaring to rounds of 75 or higher.

To combat the treacherous test Fritsch took a fairly conservative approach in attacking the course.  “..just no reason to challenge the rough,” he said when asked about the way he plotted his way around Bay Hill, often taking less than driver off the tee.  “The greens are too challenging to not be hitting from the fairway.”

The plan was aided even more by Fritsch’s draw for the tournament. It saw him have a late tee time in round one and will provide an 9:25 a.m. start on Friday.  While it was cold and windy in the a.m. in Orlando on Thursday by the time Brad teed it up he said that is was “fairly dry considering the rain yesterday.”

Friday morning the Ottawa, Ontario-raised pro will have fresh greens and low winds that will make scoring as easy as it could be, a relative term at the often ornery Bay Hill.  Even so he’ll take it on with the same approach he took in round one.

After seeing how it worked out, it sounds like a pretty good idea.

Three other Canadians are playing this week at Bay Hill.  Brantford, Ontario’s David Hearn posted a 75 to share 86th.  Saskatchewan native Graham DeLaet and Bright’s Grove Ontario’s Mike Weir are in a tie for 94th after carding 76’s.

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