Bel Ombre - Inside the top 20 in three of his last four tournaments, Dylan Frittelli is one to watch in this week’s Mauritius Open.
His recent performances include a share of fourth in the European Tour’s 2017 season-ending World Tour Championship, and a share of 16th in last week’s European Tour’s 2018 season-opening Hong Kong Open.
The Mauritius Open, sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, the Asian Tour and the European Tour, tees off on Thursday at the Heritage Golf Club and although there are two Open Championship winners in Louis Oosthuizen and Darren Clarke in the field, Frittelli is certainly a player who catches the eye in any field in the world right now.
“I’m a different player now from the confidence I’ve gained,” he said. “It’s crazy to look back and see the type of golfer I was, even a year ago. I had four years of pro golf under my belt, but the mental aspect has become clear to me over the last year. I’ve learned a lot of confidence from the good play and I now am able to see myself with the top golfers in the world and competing with them and winning.”
Things may well have started for him with his maiden European Tour win in June’s Lyoness Open in Austria, but eyes were well and truly opened when he came so close to unseating Justin Rose on his charge to victory in the Turkish Airlines Open at the beginning of the month.
“I played with Justin Rose twice in the last three weeks,” he said. “That was tons of fun, and then I had Sergio Garcia on the Saturday in Dubai. I managed to beat both of them -Justin beat me once - but it was great playing alongside them and seeing my game was good enough to compete with them.”
Frittelli’s run followed a series of uninspiring finishes after his missed cut in July in the Open Championship. That series included another pair of missed cuts (in the British Masters and the Italian Open) and nary a top-20 in seven starts, with a best of a share of 31st coming in September’s KLM Open.
His challenge to world number six Rose was largely built on some of the most solid putting imaginable, but there is much more to his game than just that eye-catching part of it. He builds his success on being sneaky-long off the tee - 302.96 yards on average last year, and 314.50 last week in Hong Kong - and he’s getting more accurate in to the greens too, hitting 71.26 percent in regulation last year and 75 percent last week.
“Probably the key factor in my game is the ball-striking,” he said. “That keeps me there consistently. I guess that’s what every top golfer wants to have - if you have good ball-striking, you’ll be in contention. From there you try and get more specific and play well under pressure. I think I’ve done that with the putting. Maybe previously, I haven’t made as many putts. This year I’ve made probably 10 memorable putts that I can think of which really helped me out in pressure situations. That’s definitely a good sign for my game moving forward.
“I’m a little longer off the tee. The equipment changed helped a little bit. I switched to a TaylorMade driver at the end of 2016. That helped me gain a little bit of distance - that coupled with the Titleist ball has definitely helped. I gained about 20 yards with my three-wood and about 10 yards with the driver. That obviously translates into reaching a lot more par-fives.”
For his week in Mauritius, that’s going to be a big help. “There are a few crucial holes,” he said.
“I think 18’s a big one. If you can get a drive away there and reach the par-five in two, that’s good. And I guess the driveable par-four ninth is a big one too. I think it’s going to be an interesting tournament - lots of birdies, I’m sure, but it could get tough if the wind blows.”