Fritsch faces stiff final test

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Brad Fritsch has staged a number of clutch performances in a year of big improvement.

The Manotick pro is going to need another one today.

Fritsch is probably going to need to shoot around 3- or 4-under par at the tough Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., today to have a shot at winning a card on the 2007 PGA Tour.

Fritsch left himself in that demanding spot after a double bogey on the last hole yesterday on the easier Nicklaus Tournament Course left him with a 1-over-par 73 and a 4-under-par total after five rounds at Q-School.

That put him in a tie for 53rd place heading into today's final round, four shots back of the cutoff for cards.

Only the top 30 players and ties will win their 2007 cards.

TOP 30 QUALIFY

Players finishing outside of the top 30 up to about 80th place will be fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour next year.

Fritsch earlier shot rounds of 81 and 72 on the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course.

"It takes so much patience to play that golf course," Fritsch said of the Stadium Course, which has small greens and lots of water, and will today decide who makes it to the tour next year. "If you're sitting at even or 1-over all day, you don't feel like you're doing that good, but you have to think again.

"Guys are going to be blowing up. It's almost like you have to have the resolve to convince yourself to go out there and make a bunch of pars and see what happens. A good round over there goes a long way."

Fritsch started Q-School with that 81 but, like he has all year, battled back. He followed with a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, a 72 on Stadium and then a sizzling 63 on Saturday, the second-lowest round of the day on the Nicklaus Course, to get to a tie for 31st place.

He gave back ground yesterday after he drove the ball into the water on No. 18 and had to drop too far back to go for the green, leading to the double bogey.

ONE THAT GOT AWAY

"In some way, I feel like I threw one away (yesterday). Whatever went right (Saturday) didn't go right (yesterday). I didn't play too bad, but the putts didn't fall," he said. "But if you look at the big picture, if you look at the hole I dug myself out of after the first round, if you told me I'd be tied for 53rd going into the last round, I'd take that.

"I like my chances on a good golf course."

Fritsch has passed some tough tests this year. He qualified for the U.S. Open, winning a five-man playoff with birdies on both extra holes. He also won a playoff to qualify for the Canadian Open and in October overcame a seven-shot deficit in the final round to win the Azores Open.

North Vancouver's Bryn Parry, a former Canadian Tour player who has lately been a teaching pro, leads the four-man Canadian contingent after he had a 68 to get into a tie for 29th place at 8-under.

Aurora's Dave Morland IV had a 73 to slip to a tie for 46th. Brett Bingham of Red Deer had a 71 and is tied for 101st place.


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