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Inconsistencies aside, Dylan Frittelli is trending up at Augusta National

Dylan Frittelli has no idea what happened to the golf ball.

In his Masters debut in 2018, he made an ace on the eighth hole in the Par 3 contest and things got a bit crazy after the ball disappeared.

“There was just delirium that day,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do with it. I may have played it on the next hole. I just don’t remember.”

Receiving a crystal vase from Augusta National a few months later didn’t jog his memory. But he knows exactly where the vase is in his home.

“It’s a beautiful vase. It has the Masters logo, Hole in One, Par 3 Contest inscribed on it,” Frittelli said. “I have put some nice flowers in there from time to time.”

Dylan Frittelli watches a fairway shot during this year's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament at Austin Country Club. The former Texas star earned a spot in this week's Masters field by finishing fifth in 2019 at the event.

Frittelli, 30, missed the cut in 2018 but the South African earned a return visit when he won the 2019 John Deere Classic. His result was much better the second time around at Augusta National — he tied for fifth in the November Masters.

“I remember the quietness, the serene nature to the course because there were no fans,” said the former Texas star, who made the winning putt with teammate and Masters champion Jordan Spieth watching to give the Longhorns the 2012 national title. “I just felt really relaxed, really calm all week at last year’s Masters. My mind was clear, didn’t feel any nerves, really. I felt confident.

“I didn’t have any family there. It was just very simple for me every day — go to the course, practice, play, enjoy the experience and go home and get some rest.”

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But his tie for fifth — which earned him an invitation to this year’s Masters — won’t serve as a huge boost to his confidence this year.

“I have about as much confidence as I had last year,” he said. “My game is somewhat similar in the fact that I played inconsistently in the fall last year. Some good ones, some bad ones.

“Probably a product of chasing the distance game.”

Frittelli saw what Bryson DeChambeau was doing and joined the chase for speed. He’s changed drivers, added 5-6 mph of total club speed, is flying the ball farther, hitting the ball harder. But there have been some inconsistencies, which Frittelli and his coach and team knew were coming.

“I’m not really trying to push it right now,” he said. “There have been some ebbs and flows when we ramp it up. But I’m happy where things are now. We’ve been geared to get it dialed in by the Masters.”

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Frittelli also is hoping to rekindle the relaxed, calm, confident mood that carried him through the 2020 Masters. It’s been a weird 13 months for Frittelli in many ways — he wasn’t able to defend his title in the John Deere Classic when it got canceled because of COVID-19, dealt with the PGA Tour’s 13-week break because of COVID-19, grappled with the coronavirus when he became the fourth PGA Tour player to test positive.

He quarantined for 10 days and had no symptoms but continued to test positive. This occurred among a couple of other players, which moved the Tour to update its protocols so a player or caddie who had tested positive but continued to test positive after quarantine can go back on Tour as long as 72 hours have passed and they do not have any symptoms.

“It’s been crazy. The craziest realization was at the Players when we looked back to one year ago to the day. It’s been a long time now,” Frittelli said. “It’s amazing what we’ve accomplished in that time. The PGA Tour and society in general.

“I’ve done some smart things the last 365 days. Will play in two Masters. Working hard on my game. But it’s been crazy.”