Brad Fritsch has worked a long time to get to the Nationwide Tour.
Now he hopes it's a short stay.
The 29-year-old from Manotick will make his Nationwide Tour debut today at the season-opening Movistar Panama Championship in Panama with the goal --like everybody else out there -- of making the top 25 on the Nationwide money list at the end of the year and earning his PGA Tour card.
"I think that's definitely a realistic goal," he told the Sun. "I've played with most of these guys now. I've just got to get comfortable at this level. If I can feel adjusted, I think the top 25 is definitely attainable."
Fritsch, who's played the last six years on the Canadian Tour, earned fully exempt status on the Nationwide Tour -- just one level below the PGA Tour -- by finishing in a tie for 75th at the Tour's Qualifying School in December.
Right now, he's planning to take full advantage of that status with a schedule that will see him play 28 of the 32 Nationwide Tour events.
Breaking through at Tour School (Fritsch had never made it to the final stage in five attempts) was just another in a string of significant advances last year.
He qualified to play in the U.S. Open in June with a spectacular win in a four-man playoff to take the last spot in sectional qualifying in New Jersey. That made him the first local player to play in one of golf's majors.
Though he missed the cut at Winged Foot, he gained valuable experience exposing his game to the top level.
He also won a playoff to qualify to play in the Canadian Open and won the Azores Open in October.
Armed with confidence
Fritsch is now armed with the confidence his game is ready to move to a new level.
"I'm able to play close to my best when I really have to," he said.
"I think that's a product of being there so many times now like at the U.S. Open qualifying, the last round of the Azores Open, the Canadian Open qualifying and at the final round of Q-School.
"Now when I'm in a pressure situation, I can fall back on a number of things."
Fritsch is also confident because a small swing change he made last year -- moving his weight at address more onto the balls of his feet -- has improved his ball striking.
He is now capable of hitting a soft fade when needed.
"I used to hit a loopy hook, but now I can hit whatever I want," he said, pointing out the more controlled fade is a better approach into hard and fast greens.
"It was a subtle change at address, but it's a more athletic position, more fundamentally sound."
The Movistar Panama Championship, at the Panama Golf Club in Panama City, concludes Sunday.