PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Texas senior Dylan Frittelli was on the final hole at Riviera Country Club, staring at about a 176-yard second shot to the famed 475-yard, par 4, 18th hole to finish his second round of the NCAA Championships. He debated on the shot to hit, taking a bit of time to gage the wind. His approach shot hit about two feet in front of the pin, hit the flag and dropped straight in the cup for an eagle.
If one believes in Karma, it is small payback for the country’s second-rDylanked golfer. For all the accomplishments Frittelli has achieved on the golf course, it may be what he has done off of it that is more impressive.
The South African native recently was awarded the 2012 Byron Nelson Award with James White of Georgia Tech. The award is given to graduating seniors and honors their work in the classroom, golf and citizenship. The award is given by the Golf Coaches’ Association of America in conjunction with Cleveland Golf/Srixon.
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Frittelli was an easy selection for the accolade. The geography major had a 3.35 GPA and was named to the Academic All-District 7 At-Large team.
The life Frittelli has lived is pretty special and unlike a lot of athletes, he realizes it and wants to spend as much time as possible giving back to those who aren’t as fortunate.
“A lot of guys take their lives for granted,” Frittelli said. “We have it pretty good. It’s only an hour or so out of your life at a time.”
Texas has a program that partners with non-profit charities in the Austin areas and helps willing athletes appear at functions. It was something Frittelli was all too willing to do.
“They have a number of charities and one of them is the Marbridge Foundation in Austin,” he said. “It is like a Special Olympics. We went to a prize award ceremony and gave out some prizes and made some speeches and stuff like that. They put in a lot of events in the Austin area for underprivledged areas. Mostly middle school and high school kids and bring them to events.”
Frittelli thought the golf team wasn’t doing enough.
“My first two years I was here we maybe did two outings and I just felt that wasn’t enough,” Frittelli said. “My roommate, Adam Wennerstrom, was the head of the SAAC [Student Athlete Advisory Committee] in the Big 12 and I said we have to try and do a little more. All the other sports were well represented and they are going three to four times a year. We need to step it up some. We wanted to leave an example for the other guys.”
Volunteering and philanthropy are characteristics Frittelli’s parents instilled in both himself and his sister. During the holidays, Frittelli has helped his sister with a project she does, putting together wrapped presents for poor and sick children. The Christmas Cracker Project gave out 5,000 presents last year.
“I wouldn’t say I go out of my way to do it, but I do enjoy it,” he said of the charity work. “In South Africa there is a huge amount of poverty there.”
It made his selection for the Byron Nelson award almost automatic and it definitely humbled Frittelli.
“Obviously Byron Nelson was one of the biggest Texas golfers of all time,” Frittelli said. “I have met a bunch of people that received hand written letters from him. Adam [Wennerstrom] played in a tournament in Dallas and got a hand written letter from Mr. Nelson. The stories like that are amazing and it’s pretty cool to have my name on the trophy.”
It is an honor Frittelli hopes he can live up to.
“He set the example out there,” Frittelli said. “I’m not sure how many guys are out there today that do as much as he’s done. It is nice to try and follow in his footsteps.”