Five Takeaways: Servientrega Championship
April 10, 2016
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Brad Fritsch looks forward to someday competing in the Masters on Masters Sunday. (Keyur Khamar/Getty Images)
Brad Fritsch defeated Ollie Schniederjans with a par on the first playoff hole to win the Servientrega Championship Presented by Efecty, his first career Web.com Tour title in his 136th start.
Both players had completed 72 holes at 11-under 277, two clear of Tag Ridings. Fritsch shot 71 in the final round, while Schniederjans shot 69.
The win moves Fritsch to No. 5 on the Web.com Tour money list, and he is suddenly well positioned to finish inside The 25 and earn back PGA TOUR status for the 2016-17 season.
Here are five takeaways from the week in Cartagena, Colombia.
1. Brad Fritsch made his first career cut in a major at last year’s U.S. Open, for which he had qualified after getting “maybe two hours of sleep” the night before.
The 38-year-old Canada native sees that accomplishment as one of many ‘baby steps’ that have added up in his 16-year professional career, and Fritsch took another substantial step forward with an emotional victory on Masters Sunday.
Fritsch failed to record a top-40 finish in his first three Web.com Tour events of 2016, but it didn't matter. He shot 83 in last year's final round in Cartagena, but it didn't matter.
He's comfortable in tough conditions, and with the wind whipping on Sunday afternoon, he remained calm with a 1-under 71. It was enough to force a playoff with a birdie on 18, and to win on the first playoff hole once Schniederjans found the water with his tee shot and then his approach.
Once the result became final, Fritsch's emotions took over. Why wouldn't they?
"Man, what a feeling," Fritsch said. "What a feeling that was on 18. I can't even describe it. ... I would clearly love to be out on the big TOUR for like 10 years, but I am who I am. I don't think I'm a top-20 player in the world, but I'm striving for it.
"I see improvement every year, and I just think that my time will come. I want to keep working super hard, and I just love what came through this week, especially in such adverse conditions.
"That's kind of what we work towards ... How well are you going to play when the pressure is the highest and the conditions are the hardest? It came out perfectly this week, and I'm just super pumped."
"I annoyed the golf gods enough to where they finally gave up for a week."— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) April 10, 2016
-- Brad Fritsch. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/mhST2DjeFX
He’s still a long way away from playing in the Masters – and he planned to tune in to watch the leaders play the back nine after completing his post-round media obligations Sunday from Cartagena.
But the die-hard Ottawa Senators fan knows that things can change in a hurry in golf, and he’s on the right track. For now, that’s plenty enough.
“It’s golf; one week can change everything,” Fritsch said. “My friend Jim Herman won (the Shell Houston Open) and got in the Masters … it’s crazy how quickly things can turn.
“I’m a huge Masters fan and I love watching it. I played with a bunch of those guys for a couple years out there on TOUR, and hopefully I can join them again. … It’s little baby steps that keep adding up, and this week is a massive step forward for me.”
Fritsch received a good omen earlier in day, when he received text that @Senators would name new GM at 11 a.m. ET. He teed off at 11 a.m. ET— Kevin Prise (@WebTourKevin) April 10, 2016
2. Fritsch “crossed something off the bucket list” at the season-opening Panama Claro Championship when he rented a car. He wasn’t quite that adventurous in Cartagena, keeping things low-key and spending a lot of time around the hotel.
With such windy conditions throughout the week at TPC Cartagena, though, perhaps the extra energy paid off in the final round.
“The amount of energy that you expend out here when it’s so windy … long days, five-hour rounds … I was really tired after every day,” Fritsch said. “So I just stayed in the hotel and soaked up the air conditioning.
“Watched the Masters, watched some Netflix. Kept it pretty low-key.”
Brad Fritsch interview after winning Servientrega Championship
3. Schniederjans entered his rookie season on Tour surrounded by a lot of hype, and for good reason. After all, the Georgia Tech graduate had held the No. 1 spot in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and he contended late into Sunday at last year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews.
The 22-year-old had struggled to find his footing early in the Web.com Tour season, though, missing his first two cuts and then recording a T35 at last week’s Brasil Champions presented by Embrase.
Things changed in a hurry for Schniederjans at TPC Cartagena, though, as he posted rounds of 66-69 on the weekend to post 11-under total and enter the playoff with Fritsch.
Although he came up just short in extra time, Schniederjans moves from 112th to ninth on the money list. In the race for The 25, that will go a long way.
Brad Fritsch wins the Servientrega Championship
4. Defending champion Andrew Landry has a PGA TOUR card this season, but he hadn’t done enough to qualify for the Masters – no major disgrace there, of course.
So he made the trip down to Colombia for the week.
The journey appeared to be short-lived after an opening-round 78, but the Arkansas alum regrouped quickly with rounds of 67-65-71 to finish T6.
Landry has struggled in his rookie season on TOUR, but perhaps the South American adventure can energize the 28-year-old for the remainder of the year.
5. Speaking of early-round struggles, Andrew Putnam looked down for the count after an opening-round 80 at TPC Cartagena, in which he recorded three bogeys and two double bogeys on his back nine.
The Washington native was undeterred, though. He made eagles on holes 1 and 18 in a bogey-free, second-round 64, and he shot 8 under on the weekend to steadily climb the leaderboard.
Consequently, Putnam was able to record a T4 finish at 8-under 280, just three strokes back of the Fritsch-Schniederjans playoff.
And to think what he could have done if not for the back nine on Thursday.