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Bohls: Dylan Frittelli stumbles slightly but has Dell Match Play field eating out of his hand

Dylan Frittelli hits his tee shot on No. 8 during his match with Will Zalatoris on Friday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament at Austin Country Club. Frittelli lost the match but advanced to Saturday's round of 16 with the top record in his pod.
  • Maybe Dylan Frittelli was the 64th and final seed, but he was the first to advance at the Dell.
  • A lean athlete, the former Texas Longhorn has tried to eat a little less healthily.
  • No other 64 seed at the WGC-Dell has made it to the Saturday playoffs since the format began.

By his own admission, Dylan Frittelli has a, well, eating disorder.

Of sorts.

He eats meals that are just too healthy.

Grilled chicken. Fish. Lots of salads.

In fact, he is so fastidious about his nutritional diet that his trainer basically asks him if it would kill him to eat a pepperoni pizza with all the trappings once in a while.

“I kind of err on the side of eating too healthfully,” Frittelli joked Friday. “I have a few cookies and some ice cream, but my trainer says to me, ‘Just eat more. Eat some dirty meals. Eat a pizza once a week at least and just put on the calories.’ I try to eat as much as I can.”

In many respects, this former Longhorn golfer is the epitome of a wonderfully tuned athlete.

Bohls:There's nothing sudden about these golfers' demises at Dell Match Play

He’s lean to a fault.

He’s got a metabolism that works overtime.

He’s had trouble gaining weight his whole life.

Now all he’s doing is feasting on the competition here at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament.

Never mind that he was the last one in to qualify in this contest pitting 64 of the top 69 golfers in the world because he was the first one in to advance to the round of 16. That said, he did drop a tightly contested third-round match 2-down to super thin Dallasite and Wake Forest product Will Zalatoris on a sun-poached Friday afternoon at Austin Country Club.

The Pennybacker Bridge, one of the signature landmarks of Austin, spans Lake Austin in the background during the second day of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament at Austin Country Club.

He reached Saturday’s knockout stage when his closest group challenger, Jason Kokrak, lost to Tony Finau, and Frittelli mentally coasted in. He certainly hasn't bitten off more than he could chew.

In fact, no 64 seed — as Frittelli became when Top 10 player Brooks Koepka bowed out of the competition to have surgery on his right knee — has ever gotten to the playoffs since the format was initiated in 2015.

Hey, Frittelli’s all about making some history.

“I don’t think my 64 seed is a true reflection of how I’m playing,” the mild-mannered South African said. “I definitely was in a group that was winnable on paper, in my mind. I wasn't going to say I was the favorite in the group, but I said if I got through Tony Finau, that would definitely make me the favorite, in my mind, and I did that on day one quite convincingly. So that gave me a lot of confidence.”

More:Former Longhorns Jordan Spieth, Dylan Frittelli, Scottie Scheffler shine at Dell Match Play

In truth, although he didn’t play all that well Friday after an amazing putting day Thursday, he was playing with house money since he started the day as the only 2-0 golfer in his group. In addition, only 10 of the 64 golfers remained undefeated after the first two rounds.

When his caddie revealed to him on the 16th hole that Kokrak had lost and Frittelli was safely in Saturday’s round of 16, it relieved all the stress. 

He’s so relaxed and carefree, he was giving out advice to radio interviewers on where’s the best place in Austin to get tacos. Hey, that’s progress if Frittelli is dispensing out eating tips.

Dylan Frittelli was the last golfer to qualify in the WGC-Dell Match Play field of the top 64 in the world, but he became the first to advance to Saturday's Round of 16.

But his golf game has him extra stoked.

“I’m super excited. I'm glad I made it through to the Sweet 16 as you call it, but not so proud of the way I played today,” Frittelli said. “But that's OK. I'll just forget about that tomorrow, do some practice this afternoon and set things right.”

It shouldn’t be hard for him to shrug off a lackluster day of golf. He’s been playing extremely well for the past 12 months, tying for fifth in the Masters to earn a repeat invite in April and posting three top-25 finishes in his 13 events.

He’s now faced with four more rounds in what promises to be a grueling seven-round event for the two finalists Sunday afternoon. But this is a guy in tip-top shape after gaining pounds to reach his current weight of “80.5 kilograms — that’s my fighting weight” and reducing his body fat percentage to 8%.

No one should be surprised by his fitness.

More:Defending Dell Match Play champion Kevin Kisner knocks out Justin Thomas

While by his estimation he played 60 to 70 rounds at Austin Country Club when he was on the Longhorn golf team, which he helped propel to a national championship in 2012 by sinking the final, winning putt at Riviera, golf is not the only activity he pursues.

Frittelli’s an avid tennis player. He played at a high level in South Africa until he turned 13. He always tries to play a few sets on the ACC courts when he’s back in his adopted hometown of Austin.

And he packs his tennis racket on the road and takes on all comers.

“Sergio (Garcia) is probably the best tennis player on the tour,” Frittelli said. “He beat me 6-3, 6-4 in Vegas. Kuchar’s really good, I hear. And tall. Has a great wingspan, but Kuchar’s too scared to play me.”

Frittelli was joking, but he’s not intimidated by anyone. On the court or the course.

That confidence and an improved driving game could hold him in good stead over the weekend, especially if he needs to battle through seven total rounds to win this prize. He’s been in other taxing tournaments like this before.

“Yeah, I've won a South African Junior that was … I guess I won the stroke-play qualifier and went through a 64-man seed,” he said. “So yeah, seven matches to win that, with a 36-hole final. So that was even more golf than what's on the cards here.

“I'm in great physical shape, so for me stamina is no issue. It's just about getting my performance up to that top level that it's going to take to beat these guys in the last 16. I’ve got a short-term memory.”

And then he was off to grab a bite or two. Maybe even more. Don't hold the onions.