With three top ten finishes in five events, Germany’s Florian Fritsch has all but secured his Tour card for 2017. Entering the week 105th in the Race to Dubai, the 30 year old kindly agreed to write this week’s player blog, discussing his fear of flying, his time on the Old Course with Michael Ballack and spending his first professional cheque on a coffee maker for his parents.
It’s great to be in Portugal. The weather is a welcome change after the last few weeks. I was in London last week for the British Masters and drove here on Monday, arrived yesterday and now the sun is shining for what should be a fun week.
It’s been a good few weeks for me. I haven’t really played much different to how I’ve played for the rest of the season, I guess you could say I’ve just got the luck and the bounces in the last few events. I’ve made a lot of cuts this year, I just haven’t been able to keep it going on the weekend but in Switzerland, Germany and Scotland I was able to move up the leaderboard on the weekend, which is very nice. It’s taken me from nowhere, with maybe no status for next year, to today on the verge of a full Tour card for next year.
I used to check rankings and numbers a lot, but I try not to so much anymore. I used to crunch the numbers to see how it would balance out against my expenses. Now I see those things as a consequence of my golf and that keeps me concentrating on the things I need to concentrate on. At the end of each tournament, I get a text with my position and my earnings and I assess my week from there. I guess you could say I’ve learnt how to play dirty, just scrap it around and post a number.
I love playing in the Dunhill Links in Scotland. I feels very different from the other tournaments we play. The course are incredible and it’s a team format which I always enjoy. If I could set up a European Tour event, it would probably be a scramble because I really enjoy that kind of golf. Every week on Tour we tend to play the same format and I think that’s why events like the Paul Lawrie Match Play has been so well received by the players because it changes up the week-to-week stroke play events.
Last year I played with Michael Ballack. A lot of people thought I would be nervous playing with a German football legend but it’s interesting how things change on the golf course. He was in my arena. The football pitch is his arena, if I was there I would be nervous but I think he was probably more nervous than me.
You could tell he is very competitive. He was supporting me and encouraging me all day and he parred the last two holes at the Old Course to help us win the team event. He was amazing at putting from around the green. He would take his putter out 50 or 60 yards away from the green and putt it to within a few feet. He could do that better than a lot of Tour players could.
When I’m not golfing I do like to watch other sports. I am Bayern Munich fan so I watch them when I can. I’m not a die-hard fan but I like watching football. I like analysing things too, I guess you could say I’m a part-time conspiracy theorist. I love to take topics and themes, from any walk of life, do a lot of research on them and see what is going on.
You could say I had a good start to professional golf, I won my first event. It was 2009 and at a Pro Golf Tour event in Germany. I won €4,814 and I bought my parents a new couch and a coffee machine. I don’t like to spend money on myself to much, I tend to save it.
Many people know that I don’t fly anymore, I only play events I can drive to. I used to not mind flying, it was just a normal thing like taking a cab. But in 2005 I was flying from Frankfurt to Turin and the plane and suddenly it starting rocking all over the place and my coach turned to me and said “if it goes wrong, it will be over with quickly”. From that moment I began thinking a lot about flying and it developed from an awareness, to an interest, to scepticism, to fear. I flew a few times more but in 2010 I was in Zurich on the way to an event in Kenya and I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I called my management company, told them I was quitting professional golf and took a train back home. As fate would have it, I met my wife that week in Germany.
Amazingly, I spent a year with a regular job and then went out got my Tour card. It sort of made me mad in a way. You spend all this time trying to be a pro and grinding and then you take a year off, barely practice and get through Q School. This game is messed up. That’s golf I guess.
To give you an example of how I travel, I do around 25,000 miles a year in my car. To get here to Portugal I left London on Sunday night after the tournament, drove to Portsmouth and got on a ferry at 10.30pm that got into Bilbao in Spain on Tuesday at 7.45am. I then drove for ten hours to get to Vilamoura. It sounds like a lot of driving but I love it. I get to see so much of Europe and because I’m into history, if I pass something interesting I always pull over and check it out.