August 19, 2013

Toronto Sun: Fritsch staying positive after missing FedEx playoffs

Toronto Sun

By Ian Hutchinson, Toronto Sun

Brad Fritsch could lament about what might have made a difference after missing the FedEx Cup playoffs and not maintaining full-time status on the PGA Tour after missing the cut at the just-concluded Wyndham Championship.

Doing so, however, would be to accentuate the negative when there's a more immediate focus at hand, that being the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-event series starting next week that includes both players who finished 126 to 200 on the FedEx Cup points standing and Web.com players.

Fritsch's goal is nabbing one of the 25 PGA Tour cards available for next season.

"I'd probably get in 12 to 15 events, maybe a few more depending on how I play, so I can better my status at the Web.com Finals. It's like going to Q-school again," said Fritsch, who finished 18th on last year's Web.com money list to earn his PGA Tour card for this year.

He then improved his status by tying for seventh at Q-school to set up a steady season in which he missed six cuts in 24 events and tied for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Fritsch also had a T20 at the Reno-Tahoe Open earlier this month, but he needed a decent showing at the Wyndham and posted 75-71 scores to miss the cut.

"I was playing fairly well (Thursday). I was three under through 11 and then started hitting squirrelly shots and then made a mess of a par-5 (a triple bogey on 15) and all of the sudden, I was over par and probably lost a lot of concentration on the very last hole (double bogey)," he said.

"I just let it get away from me (Thursday) and (Friday) obviously, I would have had to shoot about six under," said Fritsch, who didn't go along with what the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., demanded.

"If you're not in control of your ball coming into the green, it's very difficult. It's an old Donald Ross course and it can eat you up if you're not on the right side of the hole and it did to me a bunch of times," said Fritsch.

"I was probably more in control of my golf ball at the Canadian Open and Reno. This week, I didn't really have it."

At last month's RBC Canadian Open, Fritsch posted scores of 69-73, but then came the shocker Saturday morning that he had withdrawn due to a back injury, which had bothered him earlier in the year when he missed Colonial.

Pulling out of the Canadian Open was both bad timing at that point of the season and a personal disappointment with it being his country's national championship.

"It happened on Friday. I stepped in a hole in the rough on No. 14 and I twisted my ankle a little and I actually lost my balance and fell," he said.

"I didn't really notice anything. I noticed my back was a little tight throughout the rest of the round. I think I jarred something pretty substantially. I tried to hit balls after the round just to practice. I hit about four balls and at impact, I couldn't get through the ball," he said.

"Next morning, it was about the same. Right at impact, I couldn't get through the ball," said Fritsch, who was recently diagnosed with a slight bulging disc, but he says it isn't bothering him.

"It wasn't as bad as in May when I missed an event because of it. What ended up happening in May, I played two rounds through that same pain and I think I just aggravated it even worse, so I wasn't able to play Colonial.

"This time, despite it being the Canadian Open, I thought if I was to play these next two weeks after, I can't go through and play like this," he said.

"It was a tough decision, but it was something I had to do," said Fritsch, who is now on anti-inflammatories and faces off-season strength and conditioning to deal with the bulging disc.

Despite the way it ended, Fritsch says he isn't disappointed with the way the season went as a whole, even if you can pick out points where he faltered at times.

"I played very solid. Especially a lot of Thursdays and Fridays, I played very well. The weekends were a little bit of a disappointment, but to play all these golf courses for the first time, significantly harder golf courses than I'm used to playing, it's been okay," he said.

"I feel there's not a whole lot lacking in my game. I need to hit a few more fairways with my driver and I need to putt a little better. Other than that, it's been pretty good. I'm disappointed with this week, but I'm not disappointed with the year as a whole," said Fritsch.

"I think just a few shots on certain weekends really took me out of the playoffs, shots here and there. I double bogeyed a hole the last hole at Harbour Town and that probably cost me 15 spots and it might have cost me the playoffs," he said.

However, at age 35 and with the experience of the Web.com Tour, Q-school and now a year on the PGA Tour behind him, Fritsch realizes such incidents are for assessment purposes only. You learn to deal with them, not dwell on them.

"If it had happened three or four years ago, I might not have been able to handle it as well. I think last year was a stepping stone for me, playing as well as I did on the Web.com . I think that really helped," he said.