OTTAWA, Ont. - It was a long road to the PGA Tour and Brad Fritsch is making sure he enjoys everything it has to offer.
The 35-year-old Fritsch was in Ottawa on Thursday enjoying some rare time away from the golf course to drop the puck prior to the start of the Ottawa Senators game against the New York Rangers.
"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time since I saw Mike (Weir) actually do it at a Leafs game after he won the masters," Fritsch said. "Obviously I haven't been at the stage in my career to do it until now so it's going to be a lot of fun, I can't wait."
The native of Manotick, Ont., just a short drive from Scotiabank Place, has always been a huge Senators fan and this past summer he and the Senators agreed to a sponsorship deal. The deal provides Fritsch with financial support, while he sports the Senators logo on both his shirt and golf bag on the 2013 PGA Tour. Fritsch will also participate in a number of community events with the NHL club.
Fritsch is Ottawa's first card-carrying PGA Tour member and his early success on the Tour is big news to local fans. Through five events Fritsch has won $209,800, ranking him 61st on the money list.
"I don't think I understand the reaction and how big a deal people have made this because I don't live here anymore, but obviously I've got 15 cameras in front of me so I get it now," he said. "I just enjoyed it. I've put in a lot of time and being the only guy from Ottawa who's made it out there I can understand it.
"I just hope to be able to show people who might struggle with mini tour golf or even the Canadian tour, or whatever that they can. I mean I had times when I was going to pack it in so if I can convince someone to keep going I'd like that."
Making the jump to the PGA Tour made Fritsch a little nervous, but for the most part he's been happy with his play.
"I'm pleased with where I stand," said Fritsch. "I feel like I can play a lot better. I don't feel like my game has completely come together and that was one of my concerns to start the year. How am I going to adapt to the stage, the bigger stage and I feel like I've done a good job that way so I feel like my game can kind of take care of itself if I can take care of the nerves and the bigger atmosphere.:
In the past Fritsch admits to sometimes being overwhelmed by the grandeur of the Tour, but having his Tour card and knowing he has more than one event to prove himself has allowed for a greater sense of confidence.
He's enjoying the overall experience and all the perks that come along with it.
"The cars are free now and the food is better, it's just a lot of fun," Fritsch said.
"The most fun thing for me is just playing golf courses I have seen on television for years and I remember specific shots that other players have hit and I can almost take part of that. I know Phil (Mickelson) made this put from this spot and it went a little right at the end and it helped me last week at Pebble Beach actually on one of the holes."
In recent weeks Fritsch played with Huey Lewis, the musical performer, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and played in a group ahead of Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open. At the Waste Management Phoenix Open Fritsch decided to have some fun with fans and rather than tossing out balls, handed out pucks featuring the Ottawa Senators logo.
"People were a little surprised when they were about to catch it and when they realized what it was it required a little more concentration that usual," said Fritsch. "It was a toss, but you are throwing them up like 30 feet in the air. I hit someone in the side of the head who wasn't paying attention, but he was ok though."
While Fritsch is trying to keep his focus on one event at a time he admits to being a little excited about this summer's Canadian Open in July.
"I think I look forward to that having a chance (to win)," said Fritsch. "I'm going to feel more comfortable there and Glen Abbey is a course I really like to play and hopefully have a chance coming down on Sunday. That would be my other dream come true, playing well in front of Canadians."
Until then Fritsch will look to improve on the Tour starting with the Honda Classic in Palm Beach, Fla., next week.