JOHANNESBURG – He may be ranked 53rd in the world and have only two big titles to his name, but South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli has his sights set on the four majors this year.
And he says that if his peers and the men he played alongside while studying in the United States some years ago – like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas – are able to be ranked inside the world top 10 and win majors then why not he, too.
Frittelli, who won twice on the European Tour last year – the Lyonness Open and the Mauritius Open – is looking forward to a big 2018, starting with the BMW SA Open at Glendower in Ekurhuleni this week.
“Winning here at the SA Open would be a dream come true,” he said on Tuesday as he warned up for the co-sanctioned event that gets under way on Thursday.
“This is the first pro tournament I played in... I qualified at 16 years of age, 11 years ago and played as an amateur. It was the year Ernie (Els) won at Humewood (in Port Elizabeth), so I have fond memories of the event.
“I also won the Freddie Tait Trophy (as leading amateur) in 2009, so getting the real thing this week would be good. Overall I think I’ve played four SA Opens as an amateur, and played in eight in total, so I’ve got the experience, and the form.
“I now need to put it together and hopefully come out on top on Sunday.”
Frittelli will certainly be one of the favourites for the title after his exploits last season, but he wants more in 2018 – a lot more.
“Last year was my best year as a pro. I have fond memories when I look back on the year; the only thing I didn’t achieve was my goal of finishing the year in the top 50, and I wanted to get that Masters sport sewn up.
“I finished 53rd, but I’ve done my calculations and things are still looking rosy for me.
“Anything I do now will add to my points tally, but a win here this week would really take the pressure off. The next four weeks are huge for me.
“But besides the goal of getting into that top 50 and stating there, for a spot in the Masters, I suppose my other goal is to try win a Major and even one of the World Golf Championships events.
“Some people would say it’s a bit far-fetched, but I know if I could get in there and if I got into contention I’d feel I have a chance.
“Look at Jordan and Justin and even Brooks Koepka... those are guys I’ve played with, my peers in college and in early level professional golf... so there’s no reason why if they can do it, why I can’t. I want to push hard for those big goals this year.”
Frittelli is bursting with confidence and jumping from being ranked around 120 at the start of 2017 to being just outside the top 50 now has plenty to do with that.
“I won twice last year in Europe, but still didn’t crack the top 50, which I thought I’d do, but I know the hard work is paying off and I’m getting the results.
“It doesn’t happen overnight... I now realise it takes a lot more to get into that top 50. But, I’ve always known I’d get to this place, be a great golfer and have a long career, even in my slump three years ago.
“It was just a matter of time before I got here... I’ve always had the faith and the work ethic and now, while the results are going for me, I must ride for as long as I can.”
Frittelli can expect a big challenge for the title this week from the likes of Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Retief Goosen, Dean Burmester, George Coetzee, Haydn Porteous and even host Els, who’re all chasing the title of 107th SA Open champion.
“The course is in great shape, so I’m anticipating a winning score around 18 or 20 under par,” said Frittelli.
“I took some time off over December, went on holiday to the south coast, went back to the States to Austin, let loose a bit, and feel refreshed now.
“I haven’t done something like that in six years, so hopefully it works out for me this week.”