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Fricke chasing a dream
Covington resident made it through first round of U.S. Open qualifying
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Jonathan Fricke is chasing a dream.

He has been doing so since he could walk and hold a golf club in his hand at the same time.

Now the dream is brighter and closer than ever.

Fricke, whose father and stepmother moved near the Covington square when he was around 4-years-old, tied for second in a recent U.S. Open local qualifier held at Summer Grove Golf Club in Newnan Tuesday.

That puts him one more top tournament score away from competing in this year's Open, held at The Olympic Club in San Francisco on June 14-17.

To earn a spot in this year's U.S. Open Fricke will need to finish in a yet-to-be-determined position during the sectional qualifier held at the River Club in Suwanee on June 4.

"It's our national championship so it's definitely something I want to do," said Fricke of potential spot in the U.S. Open. "With my goals in golf those are the type of things I aspire to do. Where I feel I should be is playing in those types of events."

Fricke spent two years on the Nationwide Tour, where the top 25 money earners earn a PGA Tour card, and for the last three years has been working through the country at various tournaments continuing to try to find a way into the country's biggest events.

This week he started his most recent journey by shooting a 67 to reach the next round of qualifying.

That round is just weeks away, leaving Fricke practicing on a daily basis for a course that he is familiar with.

"It's a great golf course; a Greg Norman design," Fricke said. "I've had a lot of success on Norman golf courses in the past. Condition wise it's top-notch. There's nothing out of place. Every time I've been there it's absolutely beautiful. There's a good layout to the golf course.

Fricke chose the event at the River Club for his qualifying over places such as Maryland, Memphis and Ohio for the proximity to his home and the level of competition.

"Usually in Atlanta there are about three to six spots that come out of Atlanta," Fricke said. "They rank it on strength and size of the field and Atlanta being one of the hot spots for golf it's one of the harder fields."

There will be about 80 or 100 players there competing for one of the coveted spots to compete against the likes of Bubba Watson, Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods.

That's the level of competition Fricke has aspired to reach throughout his life.

He grew up around golf with his father, Richard, being a club professional, and his maternal grandmother and his mother's brother also being PGA professionals.

"Growing up around golf, with all of them were great players I was never made to lay golf but it was always there if I wanted to play."

Richard taught him how to play at an early age and Fricke hasn't wanted to put the clubs down since.

"It was nice to have him to be able to bounce things off of," Fricke said. "He's as knowledgeable about golf as I've ever been. He's always been a good guy to answer those question and go back and forth with.

"Being around good players has helped my development in golf and allowed me certain advantages others didn't have growing up."

Fricke competed on the course throughout his life, including at South Gwinnett High while living with his mother in Snellville.

From there he ended up at Georgia State, finishing in 2004.

After school he went immediately to the professional ranks, turning pro in 2005. Throughout 2005 and '06 he competed in Monday qualifiers earning his way into tournaments throughout the country trying to earn Nationwide Tour status.

The first year he qualified for around half the events but didn't earn full-time status. Throughout those first two years he missed out on qualifying through Q-school, missing getting through the first stage in '05 and missing getting through the second stage in '06.

In 2007 he played on the E-golf Tour and earned a spot on the Nationwide Tour through Q-school.

While on the Nationwide Tour he finished tied for third in a tournament in Rochester and tied for eighth in a tournament in Utah.

"I had several good finishes," Fricke said. "It was a struggle that year, getting used to travel and used to the golf courses."

The following year, Fricke earned conditional status on the Nationwide Tour, not knowing where or when he would play.

Since then he has been able to make enough on the E-Tour, throughout other tournaments and with help of Golf Club of Georgia members to continue his professional career, working on earning full-time status on the Nationwide or PGA Tours.

"The hardest part about professional golf is having a tee time on Thursday in tournaments," Fricke said. "Qualifying and getting tee times is the hard part. Then once you get three or four rounds in there's less pressure on you. You can relax and play golf. With one round you feel like you have to play as perfect as possible."

That is currently where Fricke is in his career, working every week to earn a spot on a tournament, while preparing for his big shot at the U.S. Open.

Fricke will travel to North Carolina on May 23 to play in an E-Golf event before going to Raleigh, N.C. for a Monday qualifier on the Nationwide Tour and then playing at the sectional round for the U.S. Open on June 4.

"Golf being my full-time job, I'm at it sun-up to sun-down," Fricke said.