'Longer road' facing Fritsch now

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Okay, so things are a little bit tougher for Brad Fritsch now.

The pro from Manotick got off to a rocky start -- in addition to rocks, there might have been some long grass and water in there, too, yesterday -- at the PGA Tour's annual throw-up-on-your-shoes festival, otherwise known as the finals of Tour School.

With playing privileges on the Tour next year at stake, Fritsch had a 9-over-par 81 at the Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., and sits in a tie for 156th place in the field of 163.

The top 30 players after the six-round tournament which continues through Monday will earn their PGA Tour cards for 2007. The rest will be guaranteed status on the Nationwide Tour, golf's version of Triple-A baseball or the American Hockey League.

Fritsch made the turn at 2-over 38 yesterday and wasn't in too bad shape. He then went 8-over in a disastrous stretch of four holes from Nos. 10-13, capping it with a triple-bogey 6 at the par-3 13th.

"I hit the wrong shot at the wrong time three times there," said the 29-year-old, playing in the final stage of qualifying for the first time. "Like I've been saying, that's just going to kill you on this course. It's not even like I feel asleep. I just had some tee shots that put me in trouble.

"Now I've got a longer road than I would have liked, but there are too many holes left to be worried. A lot of guys are going to shoot 75, 76, 77."

Fritsch came over the top on his tee shot in a gusty wind on the 13th hole and plopped the ball in the water. He compounded his trouble on the hole by three-putting.

But he played the last five holes of the Pete Dye-designed course in 1-under par, so he's got a little something to build on going into today's second round.

Scott Gutschewski of Omaha, Neb., had a 5-under par 67 yesterday to take the lead, one shot better than Jeff Gallagher of Marion, Ind., and Ryan Howison of Columbus, Ohio. Gutschewski was 167th on last year's PGA Tour money list.

David Morland IV of Aurora led the Canadian contingent as he was tied for 13th after a 1-under par 71, while Brett Bingham of Red Deer was tied for 74th after a 75 and Bryn Parry of Vancouver tied for 130th with a 78.


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