Rex Hospital Open: Fritsch finishes T8 by doing it his way

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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RALEIGH, N.C. – Brad Fritsch finished the 2015 Rex Hospital Open playing the style of golf he’s accustomed to.

It’s a no-nonsense, straight-forward brand of play that goes in line with his personality.

That’s what helped him finish this year’s competition tied for eighth place (-14, 270), finishing with a 3-under par 68, as a follow-up his best-ever finish on the Tour – a T4 (273) ending in last year’s Rex Hospital Open.

The Holly Springs, N.C. resident, who was born in Edmonton, Alberta and grew up in the Ottawa, Ontario area, felt confident that his knowledge of the course would help him improve on his 117th ($9.918) ranking on the Tour’s Money List coming into the tournament.

It did.

By the end of the competition which 3-time winner Kyle Thompson captured in a two-hole, three-man playoff, Fritsch had improved 36 spots to 81st – earning $18,125 – his best finish and biggest payday so far this season.

“I know the course very well,” Fritsch said earlier in the week.

“I need to get my game straight and come in Thursday and try to attack it because it will be there for the taking.”

Fully exempt on the Tour, he missed making the PGA Tour by one spot last season.

He continued on to talk about the inconsistent set of results his season has produced so far.

“Just tryin’ to figure out what I need to do before each tournament,” he said.

“This week will be a good place to start.”

As he spoke, he watched as a number of his fellow Tour members littered the practice green with aids to help them maintain and improve their putting strokes.

“I’ve learned that those gadgets don’t help me,” Fritsch said.

“I’m not one to get too technical. I mean we focus on mechanics in practice, but when you get on the course, you gotta’ let the athlete come out and not think about where your golf swing is. You just gotta’ hit the ball and go find it. That works for me the best.”

Six days later, Fritsch teed off on Sunday, having carded rounds of 69, 68, and 65 to put him tied for 12th at 11-under par to begin the final round of play.

“I was really strugglin’, and I was fortunate to make the cut,” he said.

“Then I birdied five of the last six holes (on Friday). I felt like I had figured something out through that stretch. It definitely carried over to Saturday and then today.”

Throughout the first half of the final round he was tied for the lead.

“I got off to such a great start – I thought I had a really good chance,” he said.

While some played defensively, Fritsch didn’t.

When he made the turn on the par-5 ninth, he let the athlete in him come out.

He attacked the opportunity to take the outright lead.

With a drive that ended just beyond three-hundred yards, Fritsch went for the green in two and ended up short in the creek bed fronting the green.

On a clear day with good lies, many others laid up to 100 or so yards out, and didn’t come much better than he did.

They just didn’t play it as risky as he did.

“I had a great number – the wind just kind of freshened a little bit and the ball floated just a hair – I mean the line the ball was on, I was lookin’ at two or three feet from the hole,” Fritsch said.

He popped up his third shot, edged the birdie putt and walked off with a par, and headed to the 10th hole which he subsequently birded.

“I hit a great shot just to get up to the green,” he continued.

“I didn’t have any swing. I felt like that could be the turning point – made the par and I birded 10.”

Even while bogeying the 12th and 15th holes, he played to par to stay within three strokes of the lead – one that traded possession amongst various players.

However, Fritsch never caught up enough to contend for the top spot.

He continued to hit the ball, found it, and chased the lead until the end.

“It didn’t happen, but I played really, really well,” Fritsch concluded.

“Totally my game. If you hit good drives, you’ll have a lot of short irons in. I focused on the tee shots and I did have a lot of wedges in. Comin’ in, I didn’t hit them as close as I wanted to today, but overall for the week, a bunch of tap-ins, a bunch of short putts, and that’s where it’s at.”