Frittelli finally back in the winner’s circle in Bahrain

Feb 4, 2024 | Featured, South Africans abroad

From DP World Tour

Dylan Frittelli won his first DP World Tour title in six years on Sunday with a two-shot triumph at the Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies.

The South African started the final day at Royal Golf Club with a two-shot lead but was overtaken at the turn and two-over for the day after 12 holes as a host of players staked a claim for the trophy.

Frittelli is not a winner on the DP World, PGA and European Challenge Tours for nothing, though, and he made three birdies in four holes from the 13th  signing for a 71 and finishing at 13-under.

Countryman Zander Lombard and Swede Jesper Svensson were his nearest challengers after rounds of 68 and 70 respectively, two shots clear of another South African in Ockie Strydom and Frenchman Frederic Lacroix.

Frittelli enjoyed a fine amateur career, holing the winning putt as the University of Texas won the national collegiate championship in the United States in 2012.

A Challenge Tour graduate in 2016, he won the Lyoness Open and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in 2017 before moving to the PGA Tour and taking the title at the 2019 John Deere Classic.

After a difficult 2023 which left him contemplating his future, he said this week he was ‘invigorated’ to be back on the DP World Tour after taking up a route for those who finished outside the top 125 on the FedExCup Fall Points List and he has now been rewarded with a first worldwide victory since the summer of 2019.

“It feels great, it feels awesome,” said Frittelli, who missed the cut or withdrew from 23 of his 27 starts on the PGA Tour last season. “It’s been a long road the last five or six years since I left the DP World Tour and went to the States. It was a pretty tough year last year in America but it feels awesome to back on top right now.

“Last year I was in a couple of spots where I thought I was giving the game up to be honest and looking for something else.

“I found some resolve at the end of last year and got some good work from my physio and my coaches and trainers. I’m glad I persevered and all the support from family and friends has been well worth it.”

He added: “I think it shows my mental toughness, it shows the focus I have and those things that you can’t really quantify. I was swinging it great all week and then all of a sudden couldn’t hit it on the planet on the Sunday round so I’m glad I managed to have the resolve.”

Svensson started the day three shots off the lead but a 24-footer at the second and a lovely approach using the contours of the green at the fourth had him within one.

Strydom recovered from a bogey on the fifth with an approach to 14 feet at the next and an excellent tee-shot on the seventh, and that had him in a three-way tie as Frittelli three-putted the par-three.

Svensson and Strydom then both took advantage of the par-five ninth – Svensson finding the green in two and Strydom holing a 21-footer to get up and down – but the 39-year-old bogeyed the 10th and 11th to fall back.

Svensson also dropped a shot on the 11th after sending his tee-shot right but Frittelli missed the green on the 12th to leave him alone at the top.

At that point Frittelli was in a four-way tie one shot off the lead but it was soon a three-man group as Lombard moved to the summit.

After a bogey on the first, the 29-year-old birdied the third after laying up, put an approach to 11 feet at the fifth and got up and down on the ninth.

A tee-shot to tap-in range on the 12th had him in double figures and two putts on the 14th had him on top but Svensson made a two-putt gain of his own on the 13th to edge back ahead.

A three-putt from over 80 feet on the 15th dropped Lombard two back and Frittelli was once again the nearest challenger after a smart up and down on the 13th.

Svensson then made an awful mess of the 14th, going from waste area to sand to a tricky lie as he dropped a shot, handing the lead back to Frittelli who made a two-putt gain after a 398-yard tee-shot.

A 42-foot putt on the 16th moved Frittelli two ahead and while Lombard birdied the 17th from eight feet, he had to settle for a seventh DP World Tour runner-up finish as the leader held his nerve.

Strydom bogeyed the 15th on his way home in a 73, while Lacroix had a birdie-birdie finish in his 70.

Canadian Aaron Cockerill and Swede Sebastian Söderberg finished at eight-under, a shot clear of Danes Rasmus Højgaard and Niklas Nørgaard, Swiss Joel Girrbach and Frenchman Julien Guerrier.

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