Frittelli back from the brink with emotion-charged win at $2.5m Bahrain Championship

South African revealed he considered quitting the game after six rough years since he left the DP World Tour and headed West

By KT Golf

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Dylan Frittelli is presented with the Bahrain Championship Trophy by His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. - Supplied photo
Dylan Frittelli is presented with the Bahrain Championship Trophy by His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. - Supplied photo

Published: Tue 6 Feb 2024, 6:28 PM

South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli captured the third DP World Tour title of his career with victory at the $2.5 million Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies.

Frittelli shot a closing round of one under 71 that saw him reach 13 under for the tournament, two clear of fellow countryman Zander Lombard and Sweden’s Jesper Svensson.

It was an emotional win for the 33-year-old, who struggled for form on the PGA Tour last year and admitted he considered quitting the game.

“It feels great, it feels awesome,” said Frittelli, whose last DP World Tour win was six years ago at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. ‘

“It’s been a long road the last five or six years since I left the DP World Tour and went to the States. I had a pretty tough year last year in America but it feels awesome to be back on top right now.

Dylan Frittelli of South Africa. - AfP
Dylan Frittelli of South Africa. - AfP

“Last year there were a couple of times when I thought about giving the game up, to be honest, and looking for something else. I found some resolve at the end of last year and did some good work with my physio and trainers and coaches and I’m glad I persevered.”

Starting the final round with a two-shot lead over compatriot Ockie Strydom, Frittelli struggled over the front nine and was one over at the turn after dropping a shot on the par-three seventh. Another bogey followed on the next par three, the 12th, and with none of the lead trio making a move, it looked like the winner may come from one of the earlier groups with Lombard putting plenty of red on the board.

But Frittelli dug deep and his round finally sprang to life with back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th. He restored his two-shot lead after sinking a long putt for birdie on the par three 16th to give him some breathing space as he parred the final two holes to close out his first worldwide victory since the 2019 John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour.

“I felt the pressure from word go, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “I just couldn’t get anything going, couldn’t get any rhythm. But I knew I had two back-to-back par fives (on the back nine).

“My strength has been my driving the whole, week, it’s the strongest part of my game. I felt if I could get to those two par fives on the back side within one or two shots I could do a bit of leapfrog action and luckily that’s what happened.

“The putt on that first par five, the 13th, was huge to get that momentum,” he added.

“I’d prefer to be five shots ahead coming down the stretch if I could be, that would be a whole lot easier. But I think it shows my mental toughness and 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, I couldn’t hit it on the planet on the Sunday round so I’m glad I managed to have the resolve to finish the job,” he added.

After being presented with the trophy by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Fritteli said, “I didn’t know what to expect here in Bahrain, with my golf game and also the country in general, but I’ve been really impressed with everything – with my game, with the way the country is run, the way the tournament was put on, it’s really been a magical week.

“I came into the season in category 12 for PGA Tour players and I didn’t know how many tournaments I would to get into,” he added. “So, this secures a card for the next couple of years and the rest of this year’s tournaments which means I can actually plan a schedule now.

“I was just playing as many as I could, wherever I could get in, so this is a really calming experience and I’m going to try and build on it.”

Challenge Tour graduate Svensson looked the most likely of the lead group to pull away during the early part of the round and was three under for the day by the turn, but he faltered down the closing stretch, eventually signing for 70 which left him 11 under for the tournament.

He was joined by Lombard who carded an impressive four under 68 but was left with just a little too much to do down the back nine while Strydom shot one over par to share fourth place with Frederic Lacroix of France (70) at nine under.

Race to Dubai Rankings after the Bahrain Championship

McIlroy (NI)

Meronk (Pol)

Niemann (Chi)

Lombard (RSA)

Hoshino (Jap)

W. Lee (Aus)

Oleson (Den)

Frittelli (RSA)

Fleetwood (Eng)

Hojgaard (Den)

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