Canadian golfer Brad Fritsch earns PGA Tour card

Brad Fritsch putts on the fourth green during the third round of the Web.com Tour Championship at...

Brad Fritsch putts on the fourth green during the third round of the Web.com Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Tex., Oct. 27, 2012. (STAN BADZ/PGA Tour)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:38 PM ET

MCKINNEY, TEX. - As Brad Fritsch pulled his gloves and golf balls out of his locker in the TPC Craig Ranch clubhouse and stuffed them into his golf bag, he moved a yellow caddie’s bib that was drapped over it.

Fritsch, the latest Canadian to earn playing privileges on the PGA Tour, lifted up the bib, looked at the number 18 and shook his head, a big grin on his face.

The 34-year-old from Manotick, Ont., finished 18th on the Web.com Tour money list and well inside the top 25, all of whom were awarded 2013 PGA Tour cards and a ticket to golf’s big time under brilliantly sunny Texas skies Sunday afternoon.

Fritsch had pumped the air when he walked up onto the stage at the conclusion of the Web.com Tour Championship to receive his prize, an engraved money clip and the bib that symbolized his accomplishment, capping a 12-year journey that had its ups and downs.

“It was a long process and it won’t mean anything if I don’t do anything with it,” said Fritsch, folding up the bib. “But right now this is a pretty big deal.”

Fritsch had a 2-under-par 69 Sunday to finish tied for ninth place in the Tour Championship. The $26,000 he earned gave him $212,168 in earnings on the Web.com Tour, golf’s version of baseball’s triple-A, good for that 18th spot. He started the week 21st on the money list.

The native of Edmonton, who grew up just outside of Ottawa playing at the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club and the Rideau View Country Club, will now have a chance to tee it up with the world’s best.

Knowing his career dream was within in grasp, he battled nerves Sunday, admitting he was worried about getting the ball airborne off the first tee.

Now, his goal achieved, he slowly packed his bag for the trip home to Holly Springs, N.C., and reflected on his achievement, a rarity for Canadians. He’ll be back in Ottawa later next week to thank the people who helped him on his journey that saw him bounce around golf’s minor leagues, including a couple of stints on the Canadian Tour.

“I’m just excited to see everyone and to be able to properly thank everyone,” said Fritsch. “There were a few people who thought I’d never make it, but there were exponentially more that thought I would.”

There was lots of drama for Canada on Sunday. Fritsch clinched his card and a dazzling, furious finish by Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., saw him bumped out of the top 25 on the final hole.

Hadwin shot a 6-under-par 65 and was tied for second place with the leaders on the 17th hole -- which is where he needed to be to crack the top 25 after starting the week in 48th place -- but was agonizingly knocked out of that spot when James Hahn made a glorious up-and-down from a tough lie right of the green on the par-5 18th to make birdie.

That gave Hahn a solo second-place finish and bumped Hadwin -- who finished the tournament with a 13-under 271 -- down to 30th place on the money list.

The two crossed paths behind the stage where the ceremony awarding “The 25” their engraved money clips -- symbolic of their PGA Tour membership -- was about to take place.

“I love you, but I hate you, man,” said Hadwin, as he extended his hand to Hahn.

“I just heard about it,” said Hahn, who moved up from 13th to fifth among the final 25. “You’ve got game, man. I’ll see you on the big tour.”

Hadwin’s goal coming into the week was to make it into the top 40 so he would be exempt to the final stage of Q-School next month.

Mission accomplished, but he was so close to pulling off one of the great Canadian golf stories in recent memory.

“It was a hell of a run,” he said. “I gave it a hell of a chance. He probably gets that up and down 75% of the time. He pulled off what he needed and it knocked me out.

“I had a bogey-free Sunday and shot 65. There’s not much more you can ask for. It was just one shot too little.”

Fritsch made it to the big time Sunday.

Hadwin might not be far behind.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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