Former Longhorn teammates meet again at Dell Match Play

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Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

On a picture-perfect morning at Austin Country Club on Monday, Dylan Frittelli stepped on the first tee, readying to tee off for a practice round in preparation for this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

But not before a familiar face joined him out of surprise.

Frittelli’s former University of Texas teammate, Jordan Spieth — who just so happens to be a three-time major champion and the No. 4 player in the world — was trailing from behind.

“I walked on the first tee, and I guess he followed me from the driving range,” Frittelli said.

Since the end of their college careers at Texas, in many ways, Frittelli has been the one trying to follow Spieth. While Frittelli, a South African native, has grinded overseas on the European Tour, Spieth has become one of the biggest stars in the game on the PGA Tour — a stage Frittelli hopes to one day become a mainstay on.

But on Monday, it was Spieth doing the following as he saw Frittelli head for the first tee.

“He’s just the same person he’s always been,” Spieth said of Frittelli. “He hasn’t changed a bit in the last five, six years.”

In the summer of 2012 at Los Angeles’ Riviera Country Club, Spieth and Frittelli led the Longhorns to a national championship — Texas’ first since back-to-back wins in the early 1970s, the days of legends Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite.

But it was Frittelli who clinched the win, sinking a 30-footer for birdie on the last hole of the decisive match. The 18th green at Riviera quickly turned into a madhouse, as Frittelli dropped his putter, threw down his hat and sunglasses and jumped into the arms of his teammates.

“People tend to forget I made the putt at the national championship,” Frittelli said. “But that was six years ago now, so it’s long gone in my memory. But it’s probably still my biggest moment in golf.”

Since then, Frittelli’s and Spieth’s careers have taken different routes.

Frittelli has won twice on the European Tour, most recently in Austria last June.

“It’s awesome to see because that work ethic (Frittelli) put in in college was a big part of the reason why I worked so hard in college — to try and beat him within our own team,” Spieth said. “That competitive nature has carried over into kind of creating a work ethic for both of us. As professionals, it has bred success for us.”

Spieth, meanwhile, had his breakout year on the PGA Tour in 2015, when he won five times, including at the Masters and U.S. Open. He won the British Open last summer in dramatic fashion. In total, Spieth has collected 11 wins on the PGA Tour.

Frittelli was jokingly asked on Monday what it was like to have Spieth as his groupie this week. But Frittelli quickly dispelled that.

“I’m Jordan Spieth’s teammate,” Frittelli said with a smile. “That’s the big flier on the PGA Tour and European Tour. Hoping to change that. Maybe one day he’ll be co-teammate or something to that effect.”

And maybe someday that could be the case. Frittelli’s dream is to eventually move back to Austin one day and play on the PGA Tour — and of course, win majors like Spieth. 

This week at Austin Country Club, playing against 64 of the top 69 players in the world, Frittelli’s getting a small glimpse of that dream.

“I want to play the best golfers in the world,” Frittelli said. “They happen to be in the U.S. right now, and that’s where I want to live. I’ll stay here in Austin. I’m taxed here in the U.S. That’s basically where I see myself in the future.”

Frittelli and Spieth aren’t the only Longhorns in this week’s field. There’s also Jhonattan Vegas, who played at Texas from 2004–07, just a few years before Spieth and Frittelli helped deliver a national title.

Vegas’ PGA Tour career has largely been up and down. He broke onto the scene in 2011 when he won the Bob Hope Classic. He’s won twice on Tour since then.

Inside the Austin Country Club locker room, a signed picture of Vegas holding the trophy from his first win still hangs on the wall.

“You know what, I’ve seen it once or twice,” Vegas said. “All the good people around Austin Country Club makes this place phenomenal. So obviously, every time I just park in this parking lot, have a huge smile on my face, it has a lot of fond memories being here in Austin. So it’s always a good place that I feel comfortable.”

Vegas, along with Spieth and Frittelli, will try to make some more memories at Austin Country Club this week.