With a final-round 64, Dylan Frittelli claimed a two-shot victory over Russell Henley at the John Deere Classic.
Frittelli finished his four rounds at TPC Deere Run at 21-under par to secure his first career PGA Tour title. The victory earned the 29-year old South African native $1,080,000, 500 FedExCup points, and 24 Official World Golf Rankings points.
Afterwards, Frittelli, who played alongside Jordan Spieth at the University of Texas, met with the media to discuss his life-changing victory. Here a few pulls from the back and forth.
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With the win, you get the two-year exemption, so that really frees you up to plan a schedule. How special is that?
DYLAN FRITTELLI: Yeah, that’s huge. I’d obviously won on The European Tour, but my exemption was running out at the end of this year, so I was looking at, if I don’t keep my card here on the U.S. tour, I have to go to Korn Ferry Tour School and play the Playoffs there, and try and get my card back.
Then I’m giving up three or four weeks to play in Europe where I can try to keep a card. All this stuff has been going through my mind the last four to eight weeks, and the only thing is you can’t control that stuff. You just have to play golf and try to put it in the background.
Last week and the previous week, I played great but let it affect me, and thankfully it weekend I managed to knuckle down and have a really clear mind-set and execute on pretty much every shot on the weekend.
Talk about your relationship with Jordan both at Texas and post-college. Did you ever see yourself — find yourself comparing your career with his and what he has accomplished, and where you were in the game at any point, and did you have to process that, as well?
DYLAN FRITTELLI: Yeah, for sure. Jordan came in as the most highly recruited player probably in a three-, four-year span, having won U.S. Juniors, two U.S. Juniors and he came in with a chip on his shoulder and, I’ve arrived, boys, here I am.
I was a senior having been an All-American, and I see this kid, he’s pretty confident, let’s see what he has. Throughout that whole year, we pushed each other. I was No. 1 in the rankings for part of the year, and he was No. 1 in the rankings part of the year, and we really pushed each other throughout that. Justin Thomas ended the year ranked No. 1, but I was 2 on one ranking, 3 on the other, and Spieth was the same.
I look back and think, hey, I’ve used that as fuel. In the past I’ve used that as fuel. I’ve played with Jordan and actually beat him in more tournaments than he beat me during the college year. So I try to draw on that and think, hey, if he can do amazing things that he’s done and I’ve played at his level, I know I can still do that.
There have been times in my career where I had a slump. 2014, 2015 was a terrible span for me and I used a lot of that to try and fuel me. Obviously he’s gone on to win multiple majors and do amazing things and that’s something I hope to do in due time.
Yeah, I’ve basically just seen him as someone that I can compare myself to and use it as fuel. It’s not something that I’m trying to beat him or I’m trying to outdo him or do something better than him. He’s a good friend, as well and he’s a great guy and someone that obviously I hope to spend more time with.
Only one other South African has won the John Deere Classic twice, David Frost. How did you start playing golf?
DYLAN FRITTELLI: I just remember watching Ernie and Retief in the early days, not many TOUR events but I just loved staying up late. Obviously it’s six, seven hours late in South Africa so I would stay up until ten or 11 o’clock if my parents would let me and watch at much of that golf as I could.
They really set the idea in my head that hey, they are from South Africa and they grew up in Johannesburg, and maybe I could do this if I worked at it and a little seed was planted. Obviously throughout the years, I’ve come into contact with other guys. Ernie has been great to me, given me a lot of time, and tons of South Africans after him that have set that standard.
It’s easy to see that and go, hang on, I can do this as well. Just like I mentioned, not comparing myself to Spieth, but just looking at the common features there, it’s easy to do that.
Actually David Frost did a speech at the South African Boys Under 17 tournament I played when I was 16 years old and I picked up a really good lesson from him. He probably doesn’t remember it because he gives the same speech at a bunch of events but he mentioned about having a routine over a putt. He said, if you’re going to walk into a putt and take seven different practice strokes and three each time, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
I was a top level junior at the time and thought, geez, I don’t even have a routine on my putting and that was a tip I use and still use today. It’s commonplace in the pro game, but that was something I picked up from him.
And I’ve managed to get little tidbits from other players and guys I’ve played with, George Coetzee, Trevor Immelman in Europe, Tim Clark, tons of South Africans have helped me out and set the stage for what I’ve done so far.
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