Being a professional golfer provides plenty of opportunities for travel and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, in his first year on the Challenge Tour in 2013 after turning professional in 2012, visited no less than 17 countries he had never been to before.
As a cum laude geography major from the renowned University of Texas the globe-trotting has certainly appealed to him. “Visiting different places and experiencing different cultures and people and different food has been a wonderful experience,” says the 25-year-old from Country Club Johannesburg who, at last count, estimated he had visited 47 or 48 countries which is pretty good going for a person of his age.
As things stand, he will be back on the Challenge Tour – the European Tour’s little brother – this year as he is fully exempt, although he now reckons it’s time to graduate to the main tour. And he feels a strong showing in this week’s Tshwane Open, which is part of the European Tour, will earn him a number of invitations. He also knows that a win will give him coveted exempt status for the next two years.
“The Challenge Tour is a great learning experience, but the prize-money isn’t enough to make you rich or even keep you alive if you’re not playing well. But I’ve had a good summer and, but for a plugged lie in the bunker today on the 18th, the good golf continued,” he said after a one-under-par 69 Friday saw him reach the halfway mark at three-under 137 which puts him in contention in a tournament where the scores haven’t been particularly low.
As a teenager Frittelli won the SA Boys Match Play and Strokeplay titles, as well as the Optima World Junior Championships at age 16. As a junior, he represented South Africa at the 2008 World Amateur Team Championship in Australia where he finished in the top 10. Ranked the No 1 amateur in South Africa, Frittelli then spent four years at the University of Texas on a golf scholarship. He had a hugely successful college career culminating at the NCAA Team Championship where he sunk a 30-foot birdie putt at Riviera Country Club to clinch the title. Throughout his excellent senior year, Dylan earned First Team All American status. His three wins and six other top 10 finishes gave him third spot on the final individual college rankings. He won the Byron Nelson Award in 2012 for his exemplary playing, academic and community service record.
Frittelli has two professional wins under his belt, one on the Challenge Tour and one on the Big Easy Tour back home – both in 2013.
But with such a superb amateur and college career behind him, he believes bigger things as a professional are in store for him and this summer the signs have been encouraging. He tied for 11th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek late in November, lost in a play-off in the Australian Open the week after that and then gained a top 20 in the BMW South African Open at Glendower last month.
Those tournaments are all part of the European Tour. So Frittelli has every right to feel he belongs. The Tshwane Open could see him earn that full status. Then even more countries will be beckoning for a man who likes to travel.