Brad Fritsch isn’t sure what to expect this week from the back injury that has put him on the shelf since the FrysDotCom Open in California a month ago.
Fritsch, David Hearn, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames are the Canadians in the field at this week’s PGA Tour stop, the McGladrey Classic in Sea Island, Ga..
“I think it should be fine. I got a lot of rest and a lot of therapy and treatment the last couple of weeks, so I think by the time Thursday rolls around, it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Fritsch.
“I think my weekly routine for the tournament might change a little bit, not too much beating balls or anything on Tuesday-Wednesday, probably just play the practice round, get to know the golf cours,e and that’s pretty much it,” he added.
Fritsch says he’s a little tentative to explode through the ball, adding that he hasn’t practiced nearly as much as he normally would since the injury first occurred. He’s looking to play well, but goes in with few expectations.
Fritsch had just made a remarkable turnaround after missing the cut in the first three events of the WebDotCom Tour Finals, then improving his status on the PGA Tour by finishing second at the WebDotCom Championship.
He opened his first event of the season with a 73 at the Fry’s and followed that up with an outstanding 64.
“The first two rounds I played, maybe, 70 or 80 per cent mobility with my back. I’m not really sure exactly when it started,” he said.
“I just noticed Thursday morning, there was a little bit of limitation and I’m surprised I hit the ball as well as a I did for two days,” said Fritsch, who really felt it Friday night when he bent over to pick something up.
“I just felt something give and then, Friday night and Saturday morning were the worst,” he added.
“I could barely walk, actually. I tried to hit some balls on Saturday morning and I just couldn’t do it and the next couple of days were pretty bad,” said Fritsch, who withdrew, but still hoped to play the following week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
“There was no chance I was playing,” said Fritsch, who WD-ed from the Vegas event and hasn’t played since.
In May, Fritsch also suffered back pain and he was forced to withdraw from the RBC Canadian Open in July.
“I haven’t got it narrowed down to what exactly it is, I have the bulging disc, but it’s not severe in any way. After a week or two, the swelling goes down and it’s done and I can play again,” he said.
“When it’s not swollen, I have no pain at all, so it’s kind of what do I have to do to make sure it doesn’t swell and there are a couple of things that I’ve identified that are kind of common denominators of what I do before it starts to hurt and we’re just trying to eliminate those things,” he said.
One of those things is something to which all golfer can relate.
While he walks his rounds on tour, Fritsch often uses a golf cart for rounds he plays off tour or in pro-ams and other events. He suspects that the stops, starts, bumps and side-to-side motion of using a cart might have something to do with his aching back.
“Like a Monday pro-am where we ride in a cart or I play at home in a cart and each time, that’s the common denominator is riding a golf cart. I don’t know why. You’re just bouncing up and down the whole time,” said Fritsch, adding he’d been in one prior to the Canadian Open and the FrysDotCom.
Fritsch has also been working with physical therapist Jaime Holt, who also works with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
“We’re just doing some basic stuff,” said Fritsch, adding that they are looking to take the pressure off the back with work on the core and lower body, with the objective of making other muscles flexible and stronger.
“We’ve got to make sure that everything around it is firing properly and, from what I understand, that hasn’t been the case — different muscles that weren’t really activated,” he said, adding that there are no plans to change his swing mechanics.
“I know the first couple of days that I did (the exercises), I wouldn’t have been able to play golf that day. It was so new and everything is sore and tired and everything, but the more I do them, the more second nature it becomes and the recovery time is faster,” he said.
If all goes as planned, Fritsch will also play in Mexico next week, then head off to Royal Melbourne in Australia, where he’ll team with Hearn at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf.