Fritsch draws closer to PGA card

CHRIS STEVENSON, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

Brad Fritsch is one step from the PGA Tour.

The Manotick pro, who now plays out of Raleigh, N.C., advanced to the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying yesterday.

He did it the hard way.

Three shots out of the top 20 to start the day at the Lake Jovita Country Club in Dade City, Fla., Fritsch fired a 6-under-par 66 to tie for 16th and make it through.

"This is what this year was all about. I guess all the pressure situations I was in this year prepared me for (yesterday)," said Fritsch, who made it to the final stage in his sixth attempt. He won a playoff last summer to win a spot in the U.S. Open and became the first local player to play in one of golf's majors. "I played the par-5s great (yesterday). I had three two-putt birdies and got up and down for another one."

The final qualifying school is played over six rounds at PGA West Nov. 29-Dec. 4.

The top 30 players at the final stage will earn their cards for the PGA Tour next year and the next 50 earn exempt status on the Nationwide Tour. By virtue of making it to the final stage, Fritsch already has some status on the Nationwide Tour, a step below the PGA Tour.

Fritsch had rounds of 72-66-74-66 to make it through.

"I figured with a 68 I'd have a chance and 67 would be a shoo-in," said Fritsch. "Usually, the number moves because on the last day this is Q-school and guys always fold. But this wasn't a hard course."

GUNN SILENCED: At Coral Springs, Fla., Canadians Ray Stewart and Rod Spittle have taken the next step to playing regularly on the Champions Tour. Stewart, from Abbotsford, B.C., shot a 69 yesterday to finish second at the tour's final qualifying tournament -- three shots back of winner Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand. Spittle, from Niagara Falls, shot an even-par 72 to tie for third. The Canadians will now each be eligible to enter weekly Monday qualifiers at all open Champions Tour events. Graham Gunn (80) of Nepean finished outside the top 30 and failed to qualify.

RICH FINISH: At Miami, Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb go into today's final round at the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship in West Palm Beach with a record first prize of $1 million US and the money list title on the line. Mexican Ochoa and Australian Webb are the only two players among the eight surviving the third-round cut at Trump International who can cap the 2006 campaign by claiming the money crown. Ochoa, who clinched Player of the Year honours by winning last week's Tournament of Champions, heads the money list and would hold on to that award as long as Webb does not win today.


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