The quick start follows a strong 2012, in which he won his card by finishing 18th on the Web.com Tour money list and then upgraded his status by tying for seventh place at the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament.
“I’ve just continued to play the same,” Fritsch said, speaking from California, where he’s playing this week in the AT&T National Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “I’ve been playing well since about the end of August. I think what’s different for me is I haven’t let the stage change my game. I haven’t felt nervous, I haven’t felt out of place.”
Of the 51 players who graduated from the Web.com Tour and Q-school last year, just seven (Sony Open winner Russell Henley, Billy Horshel, James Hahn, David Lingmerth, Scott Langley and Nicholas Thompson) have won more money than Fritsch.
At the AT&T, he’s teaming with rock singer Huey Lewis in the pro-am portion of the event.
They begin Thursday morning at Monterey Peninsula’s Shore course, one of three layouts used in the tournament. (Fritsch described the Shore as “excellent.”) They move on to Spyglass Hill on Friday and Pebble Beach on Saturday.
FACE OFF: Fritsch will return to his hometown to drop the puck at an Ottawa Senators game on Feb. 21 against the New York Rangers, ScoreGolf magazine editor Jason Logan reports.
Fritsch has that week off because he’s not eligible for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
The Senators are close to Fritsch’s heart, literally. He wears the team’s logo on his shirts under a sponsorship deal with the NHL club.
KEEPING THE FAITH: Mike Weir admitted in a revealing television interview this week that he’s experienced a lot of frustration and disappointment as he’s tried to return to his former playing form.
But he’s never given up hope or desire.
“I still feel like I have a lot to play for,” Weir said in a sit-down interview with Tim Rosaforte of Golf Channel. “I still feel like I have a lot to play for. I feel like I can accomplish some really good things. If I didn’t feel that, if I didn’t feel that passion to keep going after it, I wouldn’t.
“I’ve been there. I’ve gone from nowhere to winning a major championship. So, I’ve climbed that mountain [before].”
The eight-time PGA Tour winner from Sarnia, Ont., injured his elbow in 2010 and his game gradually deteriorated. He eventually had surgery in 2011.
He hadn’t made a PGA Tour cut in 17 starts before reaching weekend play last month at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Weir told Rosaforte that the 10th anniversary of his Masters victory doesn’t motivate him to work so hard on his comeback. But his two children do.
He wants to show them he’s a “tough guy” and that adversity in life can be overcome.
Weir couldn’t say how far along he is in his comeback but he senses he is playing better, and the scores show it. He won’t feel fully back, he added, until he feels comfortable on every shot and is in contention.
CREAMER OF THE CROP: Stephanie Sherlock had a nice finish at a SunCoast Ladies Series event in Orlando on Wednesday. She tied for third place and pocketed $1,100.
But she and the rest of the field were outclassed by the winner. No wonder. It was world No. 13 and LPGA Tour star Paula Creamer.
The American made a rare start on the mini-tour to sharpen her game ahead of the LPGA Tour season.
Creamer set a course record of seven-under 65 at Orange Tree Country Club to finish the 54-hole event at 11-under 205.
She was 11 shots better than runner-up Yuki Sakurai of Japan and 15 better than Sherlock, who’s entering her second year on the LPGA Tour.
Natalie Gleadall of Stratford, Ont., tied for 11th place at 13 over and Danielle Mills of Pointe-Claire, Que., shared 18th. Nicole Vandermade of Brantford, Ont., and amateur Brogan McKinnon of Mississauga were among a group of four in 30th, and Ellen O’Brien was 39th.
Creamer said she needed a competitive environment to get ready for the LPGA Tour season. She’s skipping the opener in Australia next week and will make her debut the following week in Thailand.
“The reason I play is I’m not going to Australia next week, and I wanted to get a scorecard in my hand and get a tournament under my belt before starting the LPGA season,” Creamer told Randall Mell of golfchannel.com.
The mini-tour couldn't have been happier to have her. “It’s nice to see a player of her stature in our event,” Tour director Scott Walker tells golfchannel.com. “It’s good for the players who aren’t as established to play with her and see how they compare.”