Heading into the Masters last fall, South African pro golfer Dylan Frittelli had never finished higher than 31st at a major spanning nine previous appearances. His best showing of the 2020 season had been an eight-place finish at the RBC Heritage. However, that weekend at Augusta Frittelli shot an 11-under-par 277 to tie for fifth with Rory McIlroy.
What prompted the 30-year-old’s breakout performance on golf’s grandest stage?
Frittelli told us he’d been working on a training program with the specific goal of trying to peak at majors and other big tournaments. “We really did well this time at the Masters,” he said. “My strength and conditioning coach Nic Catterall designed a really good lead up to the event. He told me ‘You’re probably not going to play too well for the 4-5 weeks before. With the speed training we’re doing you’ll be a little tired, but I promise you when we get to the Masters you’ll be ready to go.’ He got it pretty spot on.”
A blessing in disguise for Frittelli leading into the Masters (which was played November 12-15 last year after being postponed due to COVID restrictions) was making an early exit from the previous weekend’s tournament.
“I missed the cut in Houston the Friday before, which gave me the freedom on Saturday and Sunday to get to Augusta early,” he noted. “Usually Saturday and Sunday would’ve been tournament play. I would’ve been stressed and all that, but now I had it off. I traveled early and had a longer lead up to the tournament there, I know that helped.”
“My WHOOP recovery was in the green on the Monday [before the Masters] which is very unusual for me in a tournament run, normally then it’s around 50% at best.”
A deeper dive into Frittelli’s WHOOP data tells the same story. His day strain on Saturday, November 7, was just 5.7 (on a 0-21 scale) a far cry from the typical 18-20 he’d put up playing in a late round of a tournament. His recovery that morning was 82%, then 93% Sunday and 90% on Monday.
Below is a graphic depicting Frittelli’s recovery each day over the month leading up to and during the Masters:
You can see above he had as many green recoveries (5) in the week of the tournament as he did spanning the three weeks prior. His highest recovery of the entire month was 94% on Wednesday, November 11, the day before the Masters began.
“The workouts we did were a lot more intense about four weeks before,” Frittelli explained. “Prior to the Masters we tapered way off. That Monday I was feeling pretty good, I was ready for the weekend. Tuesday and Wednesday I did some fine tuning and loosening up, and then by Thursday I was really [ready to go]. My workouts were really light that week.”
Here’s a chart showing Frittelli’s daily strain that same month, with strain from activities (workouts) appearing in blue:
As he mentioned, his activity strain is much higher three and four weeks out, and the blue lines begin to dip as the Masters approaches.
“My sleep before the Masters was really good too,” Frtitelli added. “I often struggle with bedtimes, but that week it was consistent.” Over the seven days leading up to it he spent 9:15 in bed per night, which translated to an average sleep time of 8:02. He also averaged an excellent 2:18 per night of REM sleep that week.
It’s abundantly clear the efforts Frittelli put in paid off when looking at his month-long trends in resting heart rate and heart rate variability.
His resting heart rate had been rising steadily for three weeks, hitting 47 beats per minute a week before the Masters. But it then began to drop considerably, and stayed steady at 38 bpm throughout the tournament:
Frittelli’s HRV followed a similar path, but in the appropriate opposite direction. After falling all the way down to 76 milliseconds on Thursday November 5, it began to rise over the course of the next week, peaking at 158 ms on the Friday of the tournament:
With his body in prime shape to play at his best, Frittelli took on strains of 20.4, 19.4 and 20.0 over the final three days at the Masters. His recovery dipped as the tournament progressed (hitting 40% on Sunday), but it was still good enough for him to have one of the most successful results of his career.