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For a couple of hours and a bunch of birdies, it looked like Brad Fritsch would pull off another improbable finish and keep his PGA TOUR card for the 2014-15 season.
Fritsch, battling to finish in the top 50 in the Web.com TOUR's finals, shot 29 on his back nine in the second round of the final event, the Web.com TOUR Championship to make the cut and look poised for another remarkable finish.
Last year, Fritsch rallied to finish tied for second in the final event to keep his card after missing the cut in the first three events of the finals.
But Fritsch faded with a 76 on Saturday this time around and though he rallied with a 69 on Sunday, it wasn't enough.
With the top 50 players in the final getting their cards, Fritsch finished 105th on the list.
Now he will spend most of next season playing on the Web.com TOUR and hope to get back on the big circuit for the 2015-16 season by finishing in the top 25 on the season-long money list.
That's how Fritsch graduated to the PGA Tour in 2013.
Fritsch was forced into the Web.com finals for the second year in a row after finishing 151st on the FedEx Cup points list and 140th on the money list with $568,391 (he's earned $1,030,923 in his last two years on the PGA TOUR).
The top 125 on each list kept their playing privileges for next season.
It was an up-and-down year for Fritsch.
"Yeah, I have mixed feelings. I played a lot of bad rounds, had a bunch of missed cuts, but when
I did play well, I proved to myself I belonged out there," said Fritsch.
"I did lots of stuff this year that I'd never done before, in a good way."
While Fritsch failed to keep his PGA TOUR card for the 2014-15 season, he did play some of the best golf of his career.
He had a stretch of about a month starting in mid-July where he played three tournaments in a total of 36-under-par.
He was 14-under at the John Deere Classic and finished tied for 13th. He had a spectacular weekend at the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal (after making the cut on the number with a nervy 30-foot, double breaking putt for birdie on his 36th hole), shooting 67-64 to finish tied for ninth.
After missing the cut at the Stableford-based Barracuda Championship, he achieved another first, playing in the final group at the Wyndham Championship after rounds of 69-63-65. He shot 70 Sunday and finished tied for eighth.
Over the course of the year there was some inconsistent play and a back injury which caused him to withdraw from a couple of events, including the Frys.com Open after shooting a 64 on Saturday.
Asked to try and pinpoint what he needed to improve to get back to the TOUR, Fritsch was quick with an answer.
"I had a very up and down year with the putter. At times it was really, really good, but the last two, three events it was awful," he said. "So that's something I need to constantly work on."
He said he's thought about maybe seeking some help from a putting or short-game guru.
"I've thought about a different approach, sure. It all starts at the beginning. I have a disturbingly poor ability to aim my putter properly," he said.
The stats illustrate Fritsch's point: he was 109th on Tour in strokes-gained-putting at -0.50 (that means in each round he was giving up half a stroke to the field on the greens).
Fritsch will still get to open the season on the PGA TOUR at the Frys.com Open Oct. 6-12 thanks to his top-10 finish at the Wyndham Championship (top-10 finishes are usually rewarded with entry into the next event providing there is room in the field.)
A top 10 finish at the Fry's will earn him entry into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open the week after. Barring that, he will go to Las Vegas and try to Monday qualify for the tournament.
Over the course of the season he will also try and obtain sponsors' exemptions.
Fritsch did show he can play with the best in 2014, but consistency was lacking. Those strong showings at the John Deere, the RBC Canadian Open and the Wyndam Championshp should be something to build upon.
"I proved to myself I can play out there," he said, "and play well."