JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli made the most of a stroke of good fortune to produce one of the best results of his career, and a paycheque of R6.9m, with fifth place in The Open at Royal St George’s, in Sandwich, on Sunday.
Frittelli was added to the field on July 12, three days before the start of The Open, after his countryman Louis de Jager tested positive for Covid-19 and was forced to withdraw.
The 31-year-old took that chance to shoot rounds of 66 67 70 and 68 for a nine-under total, six behind American winner Collin Morikawa. Frittelli also finished just two shots behind compatriot Louis Oosthuizen on 11-under who had led the tournament after each of the first three rounds.
“It was just an awesome week. Having got in on Monday morning, I think I couldn't have asked for much more,” said Frittelli.
“Just to be in contention on the weekend was my goal. I think I more than did that. Had a struggle on 11 today, but besides that, it was pretty plain sailing. I'm really proud of the way I handled everything.”
Frittelli’s fifth place ties his best result in a major, having shared fifth at the 2020 Masters. His finish carried 24 world ranking points - the same number he received for his win at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour and his victory in the European Tour’s Lyoness Open in 2017.
It also saw him rise 28 places to 78th in the world, and earn a spot in the field for The Open next year for the 150th edition of the tournament, to be held at St Andrews in Scotland next year.
“My caddie and I were talking about it. Top five used to get you in every major. Not true anymore, but I guess it gets you back in The Open the following year. So St Andrews, that's going to be awesome. I love that place. Any Open Championship is tons of fun.”
Fritelli’s final round included five birdies, a bogey and an untimely double bogey at the par three 11th where he thinned his green side bunker shot into another sand trap.
“It was a tough day. I had Mackenzie Hughes, who I played the first two rounds with it. He played great, made a wonderful birdie on the last hole. I was just plugging away all day. 11 was unfortunate.
“I had about five inches of sand under my feet and then one inch by the ball, managed to blade it over the back and almost play a miraculous shot to get it up and down for bogey but it plugged it in the rough.”
Two birdies in his final four holes, however, would cap a memorable tournament for the two-time European tour event winner.
“I’m really proud of the way I fought back from there, made a good eight-footer for par and then a few birdies coming in, kept it together. I was still aggressive. Hit driver of a lot of tees. It was crucial for me to stick to my game plan and keep hitting it long off the tee.”
African News Agency