THINK YOUNG, PLAY HARD

Dy­lan Frit­telli looks for a big break­through in 2016 af­ter a strong fin­ish to 2015. In­ter­viewed by Barry Havenga

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Con­tents - Dy­lan Fritelli.

AFOR­TU­ITOUS AUS SIE EX­PE­RI­ENCE I’m still not sure how the Sun­shine Tour got so many spots in the Euro­pean Tour’s co-sanc­tioned Aus­tralian PGA on the Gold Coast in De­cem­ber. It was an un­ex­pected bonus, and I took full ad­van­tage. It helped that I had played in Aus­tralia be­fore, in the 2010 Eisen­hower Tro­phy in Ade­laide. My un­cle Greg Frit­telli trav­elled from New Zealand to cad­die for me. Greg has a back­ground in sports coach­ing and he kept me fo­cused all week. In the

nal round I was sur­prised how sup­port­ive the lo­cal fans were to­wards me and my Amer­i­can play­ing part­ner Harold Varner. I came up just short (Aussie Nathan Hol­man beat us on the rst playo hole), but it was a terri c learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

THE BEN­E­FIT OF EARN ING FOR­EIGN CUR­RENCY

The Aussie PGA was su­perbly run and pro­moted. Zan­der Lom­bard and I were in­ter­viewed by a group of 25 jour­nal­ists af­ter tak­ing the 54-hole lead, and there was plenty of ex­po­sure on lo­cal TV and ra­dio sta­tions.We didn’t know if were get­ting paid in eu­ros or Aussie dol­lars, and all I know is that I got very lucky with the ex­change rate as the rand ca­pit­u­lated soon af­ter­wards. My joint sec­ond place nish was worth R1.75-mil­lion (€106 055)!

ON HIS BIG­GEST ACHIEVE­MENT IN GOLF

I holed the win­ning putt for the Uni­ver­sity of Texas in the match­play nal of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Divi­sion 1 Cham­pi­onship, which was a huge bene t for when I turned pro straight af­ter­wards. I was No 2 on the col­lege rank­ings and we faced Alabama (who were ranked No 2 in the na­tion be­hind Texas).All square play­ing the last in the de­cid­ing match, I holed a 20-foot birdie putt on Riviera’s famed 18th green be­fore be­ing mobbed by my team­mate and coaches.The mo­ment went vi­ral on so­cial net­works and fea­tured on ESPN’s Top 10 plays of the week­end. It was huge for my pro le when I signed with IMG, my man­age­ment com­pany, and spon­sor Nike af­ter­wards.

ON JOR­DAN SPI­ETH

Jor­dan was on our Texas team that won at Riviera. It was his rst and only full year at col­lege. No one is ever a ‘sure thing’ in golf, but it was very clear from the be­gin­ning that he was special.We all knew he wouldn’t last two years be­fore turn­ing pro and ev­ery­one was think­ing he could win a PGA Tour event while at col­lege. He is a re­mark­able put­ter.We had putting contests all the time and you might beat him two out of 10 times.And he would get bet­ter as the pres­sure grew. On the back nine of a big event his as­ton­ish­ing self-be­lief came to the fore. He lit­er­ally ex­pected to make ev­ery 20-footer he looked at – and usu­ally did! I last saw him at a fundraiser at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas in 2014, and we keep in touch with oc­ca­sional text mes­sages.

ON SLEEP­ING PAST A TEE TIME

For my third start as a pro I

ew from Amer­ica to Aus­tria for the Ly­oness Open on the Euro­pean Tour, but got sick on the way. It was a Wed­nes­day start so I didn’t have a lot of time to re­cover. I shot 72 in a weather-de­layed rst round (on med­i­ca­tion) and re­turned to my ho­tel for a ‘nap’ at 19h00. I woke up brie y at mid­night and thought I had set my alarm on my phone, but it failed – sim­i­lar to what hap­pened to Jim Furyk once – and I missed a 13h30 tee time. Yes, I slept al­most non-stop for 18 hours!

ON GET­TING AWAY FROM THE GAME

I’ve got into sur ng re­cently. I’m the equiv­a­lent of a 15-hand­i­cap on the waves but I en­joy it. Liv­ing in Joburg and Austin ob­vi­ously isn’t ideal for this new hobby, but we play at enough coastal venues to make it more of a reg­u­lar pur­suit. I also play Xbox games when I hang with friends, but I don’t own a con­sole, that would be dan­ger­ous.

ON WHAT HE’S LEARNT MOST

I am at the most im­por­tant part of my ca­reer. It really is as sim­ple as that.You have help from coaches and sup­port from fam­ily and friends, but I am run­ning my own busi­ness and only I can make the nal de­ci­sions. Com­ing down the stretch it’s just me and the ball.

Dy­lan Frit­telli, with his un­cle Greg on the bag, and Harold Varner (pic­tured right), lost a play­off to Nathan Hol­man at the Aus­tralian PGA.

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