The second-leading money winner this year on the Web.com Tour, Brad Fritsch has no trepidation in hitting that 230-yard approach shot over water and into the wind, and doesn’t twitch on those speedy, downhill 5-foot par putts.
But hosting a sleepover at his Holly Springs home for his 7-year-old daughter’s birthday? Nine girls in the house?
“It ended fine, everyone left alive and safe and sound,” Fritsch said Monday, smiling. “I’m not so sure we’re going to do that again. That was an eye-opening experience, in more ways than one.”
With last weekend free, Fritch and his wife, Megan, opened up their home for the birthday festivities, and he did live to tweet about it (#SleepoverMadness). But this week it’s all about the golf again, about contending in the Rex Hospital Open, the Web.com Tour event at TPC Wakefield Plantation.
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Something of a slow starter in past years, Fritsch has won on tour this year at the Servientrega Championship in Cartagena, Columbia. Two weeks later, in the tour’s next event, he almost won again, finishing in a tie for second in the El Bosque Mexico Championship at Guanajuato, Mexico.
In two hot weeks, the former Campbell golfer won $183,200 of his $188,990 this year. In two tournaments, he has positioned himself to finish in the top 25 on the tour’s final money list and secure his PGA Tour playing rights for 2016-17.
“Very relaxed,” Fritsch said of his start. “I have a tendency to leave things to the last minute the last bunch of years. I’m so glad I’ve gotten the hardest part out of the way so early in the season.
“I feel like I’ve hardly played. I’ve played six events out of the seven we play out here. To have as much money accrued as I have is huge. I don’t know how to adjust to it, or if I’m supposed to adjust to it.”
To have as much money accrued as I have is huge. I don’t know how to adjust to it, or if I’m supposed to adjust to it.
A year ago, Fritsch missed the cut in three of his first five Web.com Tour events and was no better than 41st in the first five tournaments he finished. He was having too many mediocre first rounds, he said, having to scramble to make cuts and then trying to work his way into contention.
Seventh in greens in regulation but 98th in putting last year on tour, Fritsch is hitting fewer greens but is eighth in putting. Call it a lucrative turnaround.
“I’ve never been in this position before,” he said. “I’ve been scratching and clawing and trying to get to that 25th spot.”
Fritsch, 38, plays and practices often at Wakefield when he’s home, and his course knowledge has been reflected in his past finishes in the Rex. He tied for fourth in 2014, with a closing 66, and tied for eighth a year ago with rounds of 69, 68, 65 and 68.
Former South Carolina golfer Wesley Bryan leads the tour this year in winnings with $269,520, winning twice. A third victory would earn him a rare “battlefield promotion” directly to the PGA Tour this year.
Kyle Thompson, back at the Rex, is a three-time winner of the tournament and may have the best comfort level of anyone on the field. Seamus Power is the tour’s most recent winner, surging to victory two weeks ago in the United Leasing & Finance Championship in Newburgh, Ind.
Fritch’s first win on tour, in his 136th career start, came in a playoff with rookie Ollie Schniederjans. The former Georgia Tech star had a final-round 69 to catch Fritsch, who shot 71, but Fritsch then won with a par on the first playoff hole at TPC Cartagena, where he had a final-round 83 a year ago.
With a victory and the $126,000 paycheck, Fritsch said he could freewheel a little more and be more aggressive off the tee. As he put it, “Just letting it go, letting it happen.”
Fritsch competed on the PGA Tour in 2013 and 2014. That’s where he wants to be again. And while he grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, he would like to win close to his adopted hometown in the Rex.
Who knows, he might even agree to another Holly Springs sleepover. Maybe.
Rex Hospital Open
What: Web.com Tour event
Where: TPC Wakefield, Raleigh