Frittelli wins first TOUR title at John Deere

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Dylan Frittelli erased a two-shot deficit with bogey-free, 7-under 64 to win the John Deere Classic by two over runner-up Russell Henley (61). (Getty Images)
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John Deere Classic

TPC Deere Run

Silvis, IL

Four consecutive sub-par rounds. That was the ticket for Dylan Frittelli, the first time he’s accomplished that this season in 20 starts. In nine of those starts, he put up three red numbers, but there was always that one outlier that affected his final results.

Not this time.

Making his tournament debut, the first-time PGA TOUR member (not a rookie) fired rounds of 66-68-65-64 to claim his first TOUR title in 33 events and first top-10 finish.

His previous best was 11th at the 2018 Honda Classic on a sponsor invite, one of two top 25s in 11 starts last season as a non-member.

Playing out of the third-to-last twosome, the Texas alum erased a two-shot deficit with a career-tying-low, bogey-free, 7-under-par 31-33=64 on Sunday, good for a two-shot victory over runner-up Russell Henley, who carded a week- and career-low 61 (10 birdies, 0 bogeys) out of the 16th-to-last twosome, finishing 2 hours, 10 minutes ahead of Frittelli.

The South African, who lives in Austin, Texas, dropped the clinching putt at the 2012 NCAA’s (as a senior), lifting the Longhorns to the team title over Alabama, their first in 40 years. That squad included freshman Jordan Spieth, who coincidentally, also won his first TOUR title here in 2013.

The 29-year-old is a two-time winner on the European Tour (in 92 events), both coming in 2017, and also won twice in 58 events on the European Challenge Tour, those coming in 2013 and 2016.

He made his way to the main stage in the States with a 36th-place finish in the Korn Ferry (formerly Web.com) Tour Priority Rankings.

Frittelli, a pre-tourney 66/1 outright, checked in off consecutive T46’s the last two weeks, and at 154th in the FedExCup standings, was firmly staring a return to the KFT Finals to try and get his card back.

Not now.

With the win, he claims a 2-year exemption and a host of other goodies, including the final spot into this coming week’s Open at Royal Portrush, where he’ll make his third straight appearance in the championship after missed cuts in 2017 and 2018. Frittelli also played the 2012 Irish Open at Portrush and MC’d by one (68-75).

Andrew Landry, also an Austin resident, was a 54-hole co-leader and conjured a 2-under 69 (5 birdies, 3 bogeys) out of the final twosome, dipping to a season-best solo 3rd, three adrift, while Special Temporary Member Collin Morikawa (66) and Texan Chris Stroud (67) finished T4, four back.

Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):

1- (-21, 263) Dylan Frittelli (66/1)

2- (-19, 265) Russell Henley (125/1)

3- (-18, 266) Andrew Landry (125/1)

4- (-17, 267) Collin Morikawa (16/1)

4- (-17, 267) Chris Stroud (250/1)

Note: Repeat top-10 finishers from last year: 0

Frittelli’s Position by Round:

R1: T10 (4 back)

R2: T11 (5 back)

R3: T5 (2 back)

How Frittelli Won the Tournament:

Ranked 1st (or T1) in: Total Bogeys; Birdie to Bogey Ratio; Par-4 Scoring; Scrambling

Ranked 2nd(or T2) in: SG: Around-the-Green; SG: Putting; All-Around

Note: See “Strokes Gained Leaders Stats” at the bottom, along with his full stats.

Least Important Stat(s): SG: Approach-the-Green (ranked 60th); Driving Distance (37th)

Q&A:

Moderator: Talk about your relationship with Jordan both at Texas and post-college. Did you see yourself comparing your career with his and what he’s accomplished?

A: Yeah, for sure. Jordan came in as the most highly recruited player probably in a three- four-year- span, and he came in with a chip on his shoulder and, I’ve arrived, boys, here I am.

I was a senior having been an All-American, and I see this kid, he’s pretty confident, let’s see what he has. Throughout the year, we pushed each other. I was No. 1 in the rankings part of the year, and he was No. 1 in the rankings part of the year, and we really pushed each other throughout that. Justin Thomas ended the year ranked No. 1, but I was 2 on one ranking, 3 on the other, and Spieth was the same.

I look back and think, hey, I’ve used that as fuel. I’ve played with Jordan and actually beat him in more tournaments than he beat me during the college year. So, I try to draw on that and think, hey, if he can do amazing things that he’s done, and I’ve played at his level, I know I can still do that.

Obviously, he’s gone on to win multiple majors and do amazing things, and that’s something I hope to do in due time.

Moderator: Do you talk to him much?

A: No. He changes his number every 2 to 3 months, so it’s hard to keep up. No, it’s tough. He has his own schedule. He’s got such a busy life. I don’t envy all the stuff he has to put up with.

Moderator: With the win, you get a two-year exemption, so that really frees you up to plan a schedule. How special is that?

A: Yeah, that’s huge. I’d obviously won on the European Tour, but my exemption was running out at the end of this year, so I was looking at, if I don’t keep my card here on the U.S. Tour, I have to go to Korn Ferry and play the Playoffs there, and try to get my card back. Then I’m giving up three or four weeks in Europe where I can try and keep my card. Last week and the previous week, I played great but let it affect me. This weekend I managed to knuckle down and have a really clear mind-set and execute on pretty much every shot.

Note: Frittelli played his final 44 holes in blemish-free, 15-under.

Frittelli’s TOUR Career:

Starts: 33

Cuts Made: 21 (63.6%)

Top 25s: 6 (18.1%)

Top 10s: 1 (3.0%)

Wins: 1 (3.0%)

Frittelli’s Season:

Starts: 20

Cuts Made: 14

Top 25s: 4

Top 10s: 1

Wins: 1

Season Form (most recent 10): 1-46-46-MC-59-MC-67-24-MC-42

Season Form (first 10; reverse order): 18-37-MC-28-MC-MC-28-51-54-25

Frittelli on Sunday:

After kicking off with 66-68-65, Rounds 1 and 3 bogey-free, he began T5 on 14-under, two short of co-leaders Cameron Tringale and Landry.

Frittelli hit 11 (of 14) fairways and 15 greens in regulation, posting 0.981 SG: Off-the-Tee, -0.189 SG: Approach, 1.641 SG: Around, and 2.433 SG: Tee-to-Green.

He rang up seven birdies at holes 1-3, 8, 10, 11 and 17, three from between 11 and 21 feet, adding a pitch-in version at 10 from 17'2" away.

Frittelli recorded 1.667 putts per GIR and 2.224 SG: Putting with 27 total putts, wrapping the week with 22 birdies against just one bogey.

OUT: 4-under 31 (4 birdies, 0 bogeys)

IN: 3-under 33 (3 birdies, 0 bogeys)

When Henley posted his 61 and the clubhouse lead on 19-under, Frittelli was also on 19-under (T1) thru 10 holes. He ticked two more birdies, at 11, from 20’3”, and at 17, from 11’3”, which gave him a two-shot cushion heading to the last, where a two-putt par from 65’10” secured the win.

By the Numbers:

5: There are now just five events (three weeks) remaining in the regular season, including one major (The Open), one WGC (FedEx St. Jude), and two opposite-field events.

66: Second straight week that Dylan Frittelli opened with bogey-free 66. Last week: finished T46 (66-69-66-73). This week: Won (66-68-65-64), Rounds 1, 3 and 4 bogey-free.

64: Frittelli’s 7-birdie, no-bogey 64 on Sunday tied his season and career low (in 103 rounds). His other was an 8-under version in R3 of the Desert Classic back in January, also bogey-free, where he finished T28.

16/1: Frittelli’s revised outright betting entering the final round.

-0.930: Frittelli is the first winner to lose strokes approaching-the-green (-0.930) since Webb Simpson at the 2018 PLAYERS (-0.762) 43 ShotLink events ago. In fact, they are the only two in the last three seasons.

T37: Last week’s (first-time) winner of the inaugural 3M Open, Matthew Wolff, finished T37 on 10-under 274 (67-71-67-69), 11 strokes back.

T16: In his fifth straight week of competition, non-member Viktor Hovland finished T16 on 14-under 270 (69-69-68-64), his third straight top 20 and fourth in the five starts. The 21-year-old is a fast-finisher, ending the Rocket Mortgage with 64, the 3M Open with 65, and this week’s 64.

T4: Special Temporary Member Collin Morikawa followed up his career-best T2 last week (as a 54-hole co-leader) with another top 5. After a slow start (70), he finished with 66-65-66 for T4, Rounds 3 and 4 bogey-free. The 22-year-old ranked No. 1 in GIR, SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green, but 65th (of 70) in SG: Putting.

1: Through 37 non-team events this season, the pre-tourney fave/co-fave has won one time: Rory McIlroy (12/1) at THE PLAYERS. Hovland and Morikawa were pre-tourney co-faves this week (in most markets).

263: For the fourth straight event, the winning aggregate was 263.

3: Frittelli is the third straight first-time winner in as many weeks, joining Nate Lashley (Rocket Mortgage) and Wolff (3M Open).

MDF: Second straight week that Roberto Diaz opened with a bogey-free lap. Last week: 67-71-72-MDF. This week: career-low 62 for the first-round lead; then 73-76-MDF.

18: Playing this season on conditional status, Bill Haas was T3 after 54 holes, the first time he’s been in the top 10 at the three-quarter pole in 18 starts. Last time: T8, Sanderson Farms back in October, finished T14. He ended this week with even-par 71 out of the penultimate twosome, dropping to a season-tying-best T10.

2nd: Runner-up Henley (64-68-72-61) arrived off four consecutive MCs, five in his last six, interrupted only by a T35 at the Byron Nelson. His solo 2nd is his second runner-up in 176 events, joining a T2 at the 2014 Deutsche Bank. It’s his first top 10 of the season in 22 starts and first since 10th at the 2018 Greenbrier 28 starts ago. The Georgia alum ranked No. 1 in total birdies with 28, but also ate three doubles and three bogeys. He ranked 2nd in SG: Approach and 11th in SG: Putting, but 55th (of 70) in SG: Around (-0.880). The 61 is Henley’s career low in 571 rounds, previously 63 (x7), including in R4 at the above-mentioned Greenbrier.

T10: First-time member (not a rookie) Joaquin Niemann finished T10 (66-69-69-65), his fourth straight top 25 and third top 10 in his last four starts.

T10: Sam Saunders (68-69-67-65) wrapped with a season-tying-low 65 for T10. It’s his first top 10 of the season in 23 starts and first since T7 at the 2018 Barracuda 26 starts ago.

17: Matt Kuchar (idle) remained atop the FEC standings for the 17th week this season, including the last 16 weeks in a row.

Field Scoring Average:

This was the 48th John Deere, 20th and 20th consecutive at TPC Deere Run.

Par 71 (35-36)

7,268 yards

R1: 69.60

R2: 69.95

R3: 69.24

R4: 68.66

Total: 69.51

Frittelli: 66-68-65-64

SG: Total: 14.443

Strength of Field:

With a Strength of Field rating of 76 (down 23 from last year), Frittelli banks 24.00 world-ranking points:

OWGR: From 133 to 92 (up 41)

Note: Frittelli’s career-high is 44th after the 2018 Honda.

FedExCup: From 154 to 48 (up 106)

Leader/co-leaders by Round:

R1: Roberto Diaz (finished: T74/MDF): Drops to 0-for-1 as 18-hole leader/co-leader

R2: Jhonattan Vegas (T37): Drops to 1-for-6 as 36-hole leader/co-leader

R3: Cameron Tringale (T16): Drops to 0-for-1 as 54-hole leader/co-leader

R3: Andrew Landry (3rd): Drops to 1-for-2

Note: 54-hole leader/co-leaders had won five straight and nine of the last 10 events this season.

Low Rounds:

R1: 62: Roberto Diaz

R2: 62: Jhonattan Vegas

R3: 64: Bill Haas, Nick Watney, Sepp Straka, Sebastian Munoz

R4: 61: Russell Henley

Note: Diaz and Henley record career lows.

Bogey-free Rounds:

R1: (9): Roberto Diaz (62_MDF); Andrew Landry (65); Ryan Blaum (65); Dylan Frittelli (66); Matthew Wolff (67); Sangmoon Bae (67); Roger Sloan (68); Alex Cejka (69_MC); Joey Garber (69_MDF)

R2: (11): Jhonattan Vegas (62); Lucas Glover (64); Harold Varner III (65); Daniel Berger (65); Adam Svensson (65); Doc Redman (65); Nick Watney (67); Zach Johnson (67); J.J. Henry (68)

R3: (13): Bill Haas (64); Nick Watney (64); Sebastian Munoz (64); Dylan Frittelli (65); Collin Morikawa (65); Charles Howell III (65); Nate Lashley (65); Adam Schenk (66); Wes Roach (66); Nick Taylor (66); Matthew Wolff (67); Viktor Hovland (68); Freddie Jacobson (69)

R4: (5): Russell Henley (61); Tyler Duncan (63); Dylan Frittelli (64); Collin Morikawa (66); Vaughn Taylor (69)

Multiple Bogey-free Rounds: Frittelli (x3); Morikawa, Watney, Wolff, Hovland (x2)

Draw:

A total of 80 players from a field of 156 made the 36-hole cut of 3-under 139:

42 (of 76) EARLY/late; 2 WDs

38 (of 78) LATE/early

70 players survived a secondary cut after 54 holes of 4-under 209.

Top 10s:

15

EARLY/late (10):

Dylan Frittelli (Won); Andrew Landry (3rd); Collin Morikawa (T4); Chris Stroud (T4); Charles Howell III (T6); Nick Watney (T6); Adam Schenk (T6) Lucas Glover (T10); Sam Saunders (T10); Joaquin Niemann (T10)

Note: Frittelli is the fourth straight EARLY/late winner of the Deere and sixth in the last seven.

LATE/early (5):

Russell Henley (2nd); Vaughn Taylor (T6); Bill Haas (T10); Roger Sloan (T10); Wes Roach (T10)

26

26 (of 38) tourneys so far this season with a traditional draw:

Winners:

EARLY/late: 12 (Frittelli)

LATE/early: 14

39

Season Winners, including team-Zurich:

16 winners were in their 20s (Frittelli age: 29)

17 were in their 30s

6 were in their 40s

Season Leaders in Top-10 Finishes:

11: Rory McIlroy

9: Jon Rahm

8: Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay

7: Dustin Johnson

6: Lucas Glover, Paul Casey, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Sungjae Im, Marc Leishman, Scott Piercy

5: Charles Howell III, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Hadwin, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory Sabbatini, Chez Reavie, Xander Schauffele, Ryan Palmer, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:

3: Adam Scott (7-2-8)

2: Collin Morikawa (4-2)

2: Lucas Glover (10-7)

2: Bryson DeChambeau (2-8)

2: Henrik Stenson (9-8)

2: Rory McIlroy (9-1)

Consecutive Top-10 Streak Ended:

None

Frittelli’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 70 players):

Birdies: 22 (T9)

Bogeys: 1 (1st)

Birdie or Better: 30.56% (T10)

Birdie to Bogey Ratio: 22.00 (1st)

Par-3 Scoring: 2.88 (T10)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.75 (T1)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.33 (T8)

Driving Distance (all drives): 294.0 yards (37th)

Driving Accuracy: 44/56 (T7) at 78.57%

GIR: 56/72 (T10) at 77.78%

Proximity: 31’1” (T21)

Putts per GIR: 1.696 (22nd)

Total Putts: 108 (T4)

Putts by Round: 28-26-27-27

Scrambling: 15/16 (1st) at 93.75%

All-Around: 2nd

Leaders in Strokes Gained Stats:

SG: Off-the-Tee:

1. Joaquin Niemann (4.376)

2. Sangmoon Bae (4.336)

3. Viktor Hovland (3.753)

4. Ryan Moore (3.675)

5. Martin Laird (3.534)

10. Dylan Frittelli (3.069)

SG: Approach-the-Green:

1. Collin Morikawa (8.938)

2. Russell Henley (7.734)

3. Lucas Glover (7.163)

4. Bill Haas (5.816)

5. Freddie Jacobson (5.469)

60. Dylan Frittelli (-0.930)

SG: Around-the-Green:

1. Brendon Todd (5.468)

2. Dylan Frittelli (4.842)

3. Ryan Palmer (4.740)

4. Adam Schenk (4.681)

5. Sungjae Im (4.586)

SG: Putting:

1. Roberto Castro (7.887)

2. Dylan Frittelli (7.461)

3. Sam Ryder (7.044)

4. Chris Stroud (7.030)

5. Beau Hossler (5.934)

SG: Tee-to-Green:

1. Collin Morikawa (12.368)

2. Adam Schenk (10.056)

3. Lucas Glover (9.268)

4. Russell Henley (8.436)

5. Viktor Hovland (8.404)

15. Dylan Frittelli (6.984)