Forgive me, but my attention won’t be focused on Rory McIlroy while he plays this week’s Shell Houston Open, his final tournament before the Masters in two weeks. It won’t be on Tiger Woods, not only because he’s not playing this week but also because I’m suffering from Tiger fatigue. I’ve written about him frequently this year, given that he’s won three tournaments already and assumed the world number ranking again. But enough of Tiger for now. Enough of Rory for now.
I’ll be watching Brad Fritsch. Focus, focus. Brad Fritsch. Brad Fritsch. The 35-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Ottawa is playing in Houston, along with his fellow Canadians Graham DeLaet and David Hearn. You don’t see many 35-year-old rookies on the PGA Tour, but Fritsch made it there and he’s doing quite well so far. He’s won $263,965 and is in 94th place on the money list.
Fritsch appears to play with little if any fear. Maybe that’s because he is a PGA Tour rookie at 35, and is appreciative of being there. His best finish is a tie for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, Calif. at the end of January. Last week he tied for 34th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. You know who won there, the guy with the initials TW, and I don’t mean Tom Watson. But, as I said, enough of him for now.
Anyway, Fritsch was in position for a much better finish at Bay Hill, but he shot 78 in the last round. No big deal. He was tweeting away after his round. Fritsch is a natural on Twitter. He’s a master of the one-liner and the crisp take. And, as I mentioned, he’s appreciative of what he’s experiencing on the PGA Tour.
After shooting that final-round 78 at Bay Hill, for example, he tweeted his thanks to fans in the Ottawa area and across Canada “for coming out and making themselves heard. The ovations are awesome.”
He’s thankful, and he’s also open. Fritsch comes across as a regular guy, happy to be on the PGA Tour but not overly impressed with himself. You could see him going to a local range wherever he is, and whacking golf balls next to a 30-handicapper. That’s exactly what McIlroy did in Miami last week, by the way. Oh, sorry, wasn’t going to mention him.
Fritsch didn’t even mind tweeting something that happens all too often, to just about everybody, I would think.
Fritsch’s bio page on the PGA Tour website points out that he never travels without his iPhone, so he must have been hyperventilating when he left his phone in the stall. Meanwhile, and to be sure, he is enjoying the perks of being a PGA Tour player. He played the Pro-Member tournament at the Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. the day after the Honda Classic in the area earlier this month. The field at the event is always first-class; any tournament would want such a field.
Rickie Fowler played and called the event the first major of the year. Palmer, Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson have been on winning teams. Palmer played this year as well. So did Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose, after playing the Honda. Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and Luke Donald didn’t play Honda, but they did play the Seminole Pro-Member.
Fritsch was taken with the masterpiece that Donald Ross designed and that sits in a bowl hard by the Atlantic Ocean.
He’ll continue his own great walk this week in Houston. Fritsch has dropped the puck at an Ottawa Senators game, and why not? His making the PGA Tour has been a big deal in Ottawa, and still is, and should be. It should be a big deal across the country, in fact.
Meanwhile, something really important happened recently. Fritsch’s second child, Jesse Paul, was born on March 14th, the Thursday of the Tampa Bay Championship a couple of weeks ago. He missed his son’s birth because he was playing the tournament, and when he missed the cut, he tweeted,
Fritsch had also tweeted that he was “devastated” to miss his son’s birth.
Fritsch is following basketball’s March Madness closely. He’s following his Ottawa Senators closely. But most of all, he’s working on his game and showing he has game, and lots of it. Fritsch will tee it up in the first round in Houston at 9:10 AM local time. He’ll be focused on playing golf his way. He described “his” way after three rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open, where he posted that T-9.
“I go point A to point B, don’t try to do too much on each shot. If the putts fall, great. If they don’t, I’m still having a great tournament.”
That’s what I call a healthy attitude, one to focus on.
RELATED LINK: More blogs from Lorne Rubenstein
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein