By Michael Sherman
JOHANNESBURG - He has had his struggles this year, but South African golfer Dylan Frittelli still has the confidence to win when the opportunity comes, ahead of his title defence at the John Deere Classic, starting in Illinois, USA, on Thursday.
Frittelli is in the unusual position of being a defending champion of a tournament for two years - winning the event in 2019 - after last year’s edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Frittelli said: “I like my chances when I'm in contention. I think if you had to do a statistical analysis whenever I am around the lead, I do perform well and I do have the presence of mind to do well.”
The 31-year-old, however, has had his struggles in 2021 with 10 missed cuts from 15 events and has fallen from 68th in the world at the beginning of the year to his current position of 94th.
“I've worked with my coach intensely to try and figure it out. We've outlined short irons and putting. Putting is a major one. My putting stats have been terrible this year, to be blunt.
“But I know my technique and everything related to it is pretty sound. It's more so trying to make putts and be more creative and stop trying to be so analytical and worry about that technique. Trying to be more creative, more productive on making putts and doing drills that challenge me to make putts.”
A little known fact about Frittelli is that he consistently ranks near the top of the list in the driving distance statistics on the PGA Tour. He currently averages 309.5 yards (283m) off the tee for 14th position in the ratings. In fact, he’s the longest driver of the SA players on the PGA Tour - which is no mean feat.
There are a number of encouraging signs in Frittelli’s game, and he revealed how he will be able to dedicate more of his time to his game in the near future.
“In general I'm playing pretty well. I don't think, as a lot of guys say, my results don't reflect how I'm playing. I think on the mental side I've been a little bit distracted the last few months. I haven't really been too focused. I came out of a relationship recently, so hopefully that's going to get me on a nice straight trajectory to playing the good golf again. Once that kind of clears up and I've worked on those two things, I think I'll be back to the top-70, top-60 player that I know I can be.”
Despite being the defending champion this week, Frittelli will be concentrating on making a solid start to the tournament and anything more will be most welcome.
“My mindset is just to play well. I haven't really played well or contended all season really. I've got a couple top-10s or whatever I've had, but I really haven't been in contention much.
"I'm just trying to get off to a good start, play well the first nine holes and get in contention, and from there if I obviously feel some juices flowing and I'm three, four, five shots within the lead on Saturday, I think that'll be a good achievement for me.
African News Agency (ANA)