OTTAWA - “The 25.”
That’s the simple heading for the most important category on the Web.com Tour website. Follow the prompt and you find the list of leading money winners at the level just below the best league in the world.
So easy to get there on a computer, so difficult to gain one of the shaded spots on the list. Those who do finish the season among “The 25” earn the right to play in the best league the following season.
Brad Fritsch, who claimed $26,400 for coming in fourth Sunday at the Chiquita Classic, now sits 21st. As long as he doesn’t slip more than four spots in the final four events, the Rideau View Country Club member will become the first Ottawa golfer ever to own a PGA Tour card.
Fritsch, 34, prefers not to dwell on the magnitude of his week-to-week standing or what it would mean to reach the elite status he has worked towards all his life, believing that if he does, it will distract him from doing his job.
But Monday afternoon, during a 4 1/2 hour drive en route to the Neediest Kids Championship in Potomac, Md., Fritsch admitted allowing his focus to shift.
To finally realizing his dream?
“No, I’m thinking about fantasy football, and who to pick up on waivers,” he said.
“And trying not to lose every single (football) game that I pick. I’m getting hammered this year. Absolutely hammered. I can not pick a game. I can barely pick wins.”
Good thing he has golf.
Fritsch, who has now earned $164,488 when its believed $185,000 should secure him spot in “The 25”, could have helped himself tremendously with a better Sunday in Weddington, N.C. But after rounds of 67, 64, and 65 gave him a share of the lead, he finished with an even-par 72, two shots back of a three-way playoff for the first-place cheque of $99,000.
At the same time, Fritsch is pleased with a 20-under score for the tournament and, considering it was just his third real chance to win this season, he remains encouraged.
The more times he gets himself in the position, he figures the more comfortable he’ll be in it.
“(It was) a little bit of a disappointing day (Sunday),” said Fritsch, whose family still lives in Manotick. “I was really happy with my ball striking. It didn’t feel any different from the first three days, which is a good sign. To be in the final group, tied for the lead ... I still hit a lot of good shots. I just putted poorly. I have identified what I do, under pressure putting. The next step is to get in the fire again, and make sure that doesn’t happen.”
What Fritsch did last week was ensure a finish in the top 40 on the Web.com Tour list, which guarantees him a spot in the final stage of Qualifying School two months from now in Palm Springs, Calif. The Top 25 there will also get a PGA Tour card.
Being in the top 60 money list also puts him in the Web.com Tour Championship at the end of this month in McKinney, Texas. The winner there grabs $180,000 and a PGA Tour card.
He’d rather be fighting for important positioning among the “The 25” than depending on a fantastic finish in Texas to get his PGA Tour card, of course, but winning the Tour Championship might even make him forget that his favourite football team, the Dallas Cowboys, is hosting the Super Bowl champion New York Giants just down the road that weekend.
“Definitely,” he said, laughing, when it’s pointed out how good it will be to finally get his first win, “It’s going to feel great. But saying that, the most important thing at the end of this year is being in the top 25. If I just continue to do what I’m doing, I think the main goal will take care of itself. Winning would be just the cherry on top.”