LOS ANGELES: South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli claimed the first PGA Tour title of his career with victory at the John Deere Classic on Sunday to book his place at next week’s British Open.
The 29-year-old from Johannesburg played immaculately over the final rounds to card a bogey-free seven-under-par 64, ensuring he will join the world’s elite at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland next week.
It will be only Frittelli’s third appearance in the Open after playing in 2017 and 2018, where he failed to make the cut on both occasions.
However, Frittelli will head to the final major of 2019 in good heart after Sunday’s win at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois.
The South African journeyman said the memory of victories on the European and Asian Tours, and the influence of a sports psychologist, had helped him make his PGA breakthrough.
“I just called on experience,” Frittelli said. “Winning around the world, winning on The Challenge Tour as an amateur.”
“My biggest help was my sports psychologist in San Diego who has helped me my whole career. I chatted to him and I was able to stay calm and worked well today.”
Frittelli, who had shot a 65 on Saturday to be two off the lead heading into the final round, finished two clear of Russell Henley, who produced an electrifying 10-under-par 61 which took him to 19 under.
Frittelli had made a flying start with birdies on his opening three holes.
His first of the day came after a sublime shot from the bunker on the 1st left with him with a tap-in for birdie. A delicate flop shot on the second to a few feet set up a second birdie before he rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the third.
A fourth birdie followed on the eighth after another superb approach shot, before back to back birdies on the 10th and 11th.
With Henley already in the clubhouse on 19 under, the closing stages boiled down to a question of whether Frittelli could hold onto his lead. The South African was in no mood to let his maiden victory go begging however, reeling off five pars before a birdie on 17 took him two clear with one hole remaining.
Elsewhere on Sunday, overnight co-leader Andrew Landry finished in third on 18 under after a closing 69.
Collin Morikawa and Chris Stroud tied for fourth on 17 under, one clear of Charles Howell III, Vaughn Taylor, Nick Watney and Adam Schenk on 16 under.
Cameron Tringale, who had started the day in the lead with Landry, saw his hopes fade with a closing two-over-par 73. — AFP
US PGA John Deere Classic
Final scores (par-71, USA unless noted):
263 - Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 66-68-65-64
265 - Russell Henley 64-68-72-61
266 - Andrew Landry 65-65-67-69
267 - Collin Morikawa 70-66-65-66, Chris Stroud 68-66-66-67
268 - Charles Howell III 68-70-65-65, Vaughn Taylor 65-68-66-69, Nick Watney 68-67-64-69, Adam Schenk 67-65-66-70
269 - Joaquin Niemann (CHI) 66-69-69-65, Sam Saunders 68-69-67-65, Wes Roach 69-67-66-67, Lucas Glover 67-64-69-69, Roger Sloan (CAN) 68-65-67-69, Bill Haas 66-68-64-71