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There's a smile on Travis Fredborg's face and nary a hint of hesitation when he replies to the inevitable question about what he wants out of life.
He has the answer teed up high, ready to unleash it with optimal impact.
"Winning on the PGA Tour," Fredborg, 22, said Tuesday. "I know it sounds very far-fetched — and a lot of people might think that — but I want to be Top-25 in the world one day. I know I can do it. I know I'm talented enough and, if I get my head in the right frame of mind, I'll win on the PGA Tour, sooner or later.
"I've grown up a lot this summer and I know my priorities and what I want. I learned a lot about myself the past six months and I'm more driven than ever to get better. I'm very excited for my future."
In the short term, that enthusiasm is directed toward the Players Cup, the annual Mackenzie Tour — PGA Tour Canada stop in Winnipeg.
The Selkirk golfer is one of 156 players set to compete in the event at Southwood, starting Thursday. Fredborg will participate on one of six sponsor’s exemptions. He played the event in 2013 and 2014 — the years he was hoisting back-to-back provincial junior trophies.
"I'm very excited to be back in this tournament. I like playing this event and I'm kind of rattled I didn't play in it the last couple of years. I'm fired up to get back at it and have a good showing and maybe do something special," he said.
Down the road, he's thinking big.
"I know it sounds very far–fetched ‐ and a lot of people might think that ‐ but I want to be Top–25 in the world one day" – Selkirk golfer Travis Fredborg
Fredborg still has a year left of school at the University of Arizona, his fourth playing golf down south. He spent his freshmen and sophomore years at the University of Nevada (Reno) but transferred to the Tucson-based school in the fall of 2017.
When he's finished there, he'll devise a jam-packed 2019 amateur summer schedule before turning pro.
The 2017 Manitoba men’s amateur champion firmly believes he's already striking the ball as well or better than many touring professionals in North America. His driving average hovers around 300 yards, and he maintains splitting fairways is the routine part of his repertoire.
"I don't miss fairways very often. The driver is probably the straightest club in my bag. I step up and thread it down fairways every day. It's something I don't even think about," he said. "I wish I could say the same for my putting."
Struggles on the short grass have hampered Fredborg's ability to win tournaments at the collegiate level, and he's spending a huge chunk of time working on his putting stroke. "It's frustrating because, at this point, it's all mental," he said.
Fredborg admitted being his own worst critic comes with a price.
"I get pretty fired up for tournaments. I get nervous because I care so much and I want to win so badly. I need to tone it back sometimes because I get too excited," he noted. "That's the one thing that's been huge about Arizona is we have a sports pschologist that I see bi-weekly, and it's awesome talking to her and getting my mind in the right frame."
He also learned a valuable lesson a couple of year ago from one of the PGA Tour's brightest young stars, Jon Rahm, who was, at the time, the world's top-ranked amateur. Now, the Spaniard has a pair of PGA victories, including the CareerBuilder Championship this season, and five other top-10 finishes in 2018. He's fifth on the official World Golf Ranking.
"Fun fact: I had a 36-hole day with him in 2015. He was a senior at Arizona State. He was this unbelievable player, but he's just a normal guy. The one thing I learned from him is how he just doesn't care what anyone else is doing. All he cares about is Jon Rahm. He just does his own thing, takes care of his own game," said Fredborg.
"That's something I still battle with, and I get caught in that bubble. Getting wowed by someone and thinking, 'Maybe if I swing it like him, I can hit it as well as him.' You have to do your own thing and work on bettering yourself. That's big in this game, getting that through your head."
After a tough stretch to begin '18, Fredborg feels like he's playing his best golf in months. He advanced to the final stage of U.S. Open qualifying in early June but fell short of making the field at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course. He also finished sixth in Calgary in mid-June at the Glencoe Invitational, a tournament that draws many of the premier amateurs in Canada.
"It happens to the best players in the world, and you have to battle through the adversity. I'm definitely on the upswing. My game feels good this week," said Fredborg.
Neither of his parents, Linton and Susan, play golf. But his older brothers did, and he credits Shayne, eight years his senior, with instilling in him a love for the game.
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"He played at the University of Manitoba for five years and was team captain, he won a rural amateur. He's probably my biggest influence when it comes to golf," said Fredborg. "Somehow, someway, he always beats me. He's the only guy that seems to beat me every time we play. We play Selkirk and I'll shoot 65 and he won't shoot in the 60s all year but he'll shoot 64 that day."
Shayne maintains that's a bit of an exaggeration.
"I don't think it's as many times anymore, but there's still the occasional time I get him," he said. "It's not often, but he probably remembers them more because he always wants to beat me in everything we do."
As a teen, Shayne, now a 30-year-old teacher, played twice in the local pro event formerly known as the Manitoba Classic (now Players Cup). He's impressed with his young brother's progression as a player.
"Every year he seems to get a little better. It's fun watching him and caddying for him every once in a while. It's great to see the growth in his game. It's been phenomenal and, hopefully, it keeps on going," Shayne said. "His ball-striking and his ability shape the ball when he plays, it's pretty fun to watch when he gets into the zone and nothing seems to bother him.
Jason Bell Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Aaron Cockerill, Stony Mountain: only local product with full-time status on the Mackenzie Tour — PGA Tour Canada. Competed in nine events this season, making the cut in three. Earnings of $5,166 on tour in 2018.
Bret Thompson, Winnipeg: conditional status on Mackenzie Tour — PGA Tour of Canada. Competed in two events this season, but missed the cut in both. Earned one of 10 final spots in Players Cup after shooting a 1-under 71 Monday in qualifying at Pine Ridge.
Charlie Boyechko, Winnipeg: three-time Southwood club champion
Travis Fredborg, Selkirk: University of Arizona student-athlete, 2017 Manitoba Amateur champion
Kevin Giesbrecht, Winnipeg: local professional; 2017 PGA Manitoba player of the year
Justin McDonald, Winnipeg: winner of 2018 Manitoba Mid-Amateur and '18 Manitoba Amateur championship
Devon Schade, Beausejour: University of Manitoba Bisons golf team member
Andrew Steep, Winnipeg: head pro at Southwood Golf and Country Club