MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Harrison Frazar now knows what he’s going to be doing the next couple years, and his work place will be on the golf course with his clubs, not helping manage tournaments or working with the PGA Tour.
That’s the difference a PGA Tour win makes.
Frazar beat Robert Karlsson with a par on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff Sunday at the St. Jude Classic, earning a win in his 355th tour event when the Swede pushed a par-saving putt 3 feet past the hole. This win means Frazar will be playing in Maui in January and Augusta at the Masters for the first time in his career.
“This probably is going to change my life,” Frazar said. “It’s not going to change my wife or my kids, but it’s probably going to change my life and the fact that I’ll be 40 in July. This will take me to 42 or 43.”
Frazar, playing on tour this year with a major medical exemption, had his plans all set to end his playing career and go to work in the industry. He was tired of being away from his family too much and trying to play through a variety of injuries that required separate surgeries on his hip and shoulder last summer.
Memphis was just his fourth cut he’s made in 10 events this year, though he just qualified for the upcoming U.S. Open at Congressional. His wife and three children were traveling Sunday when he won, and he hadn’t talked to them before he met with reporters after the trophy presentation.
The man who might’ve been previously known best as Justin Leonard’s college roommate at Texas also picked up the biggest paycheck of his career, taking home $1,008,000.
“It just shows you how sometimes when you let your guard down or let your expectations soften, you can free yourself up,” Frazar said.
Frazar didn’t realize he’d won until Karlsson’s putt finally stopped without a miraculous turn back into the hole. From then on, he called it a whirlwind. All that talk about acting as if you’ve been there before doesn’t work for someone who’d never won before.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to keep the seersucker jacket. I don’t know if I’m supposed to carry the trophy. You don’t know who you’re supposed to talk to. I felt bad. I didn’t thank the sponsors. I didn’t thank FedEx. I didn’t thank the volunteers. I was not quite sure really what was happening right then,” Frazar said.
“The only tournament that I won in Q-school, you walked in, signed your card in the scoring trailer, and they gave you a pat on the back, ‘Good job.’ You walked out the door. There was nobody there.”
Karlsson led after the second and third rounds, and he has shot below par on his past eight rounds here. Now the Swede has lost in a playoff at the TPC Southwind course for a second straight year, though he said he couldn’t have done much more in what he called a great match.
“He played great, and I played good as well,” Karlsson said. “It’s one of those days where I think most of us had a lot of fun out there. Congratulate him on a great win. He played great in the last round after sort of being injured and stuff like that. He played really well.”
Camilo Villegas (64) tied for third with Tim Herron, Ryuji Imada, Charles Howell and Retief Goosen. Lee Westwood, the 2010 champion here, tied for 11th.
Frazar missed a chance to win on the 72nd hole when he made his first bogey of the day. He shot a 3-under 67 to match Karlsson (68) at 13 under. He became the seventh first-time winner on tour this year and the first to win his first title in Memphis since Dicky Pride in 1994.
“I just wanted to make it interesting,” Frazar joked. “I felt bad for Robert.”
This final round turned into a two-man playoff almost from the opening hole with no one closer than three strokes early, a margin that expanded to six.
Frazar kept catching Karlsson atop the leaderboard, finally getting the lead when Karlsson bogeyed No. 17 after yanking a 3-wood way left off the tee. Frazar promptly gave the stroke back on the 72nd hole when his second shot landed near the green and dribbled into the water.
Karlsson stroked in an 8-foot par putt to set up his second straight playoff in Memphis.
“Felt more like 12 for me,” Karlsson said. “Really, really big 8 feet. I know that’s a putt to get into the playoff. So you … pick your shot and try to hit it there. Scary thing was I had quite a big spike mark right in the way, but you can’t clip it. That’s the way it is. You take your spot and try to hit it as good as you can, and it went in. It was great.”
In the playoff, Frazar had a 17-footer for birdie and the win on the first hole at No. 18 where he had just bogeyed. But he pushed his putt a foot past. Karlsson had an 18-foot birdie putt for the win on the par-3 11th only to just miss right, while Frazar two-putted from 45 feet.
Frazar had a nice drive on the third hole, the par-4 12th, that left him 93 yards to the pin. He hit his approach to 22 feet and two-putted.
Karlsson had to chip onto the green, and the ball sped 11 feet past the hole. Needing to hole out to extend the playoff, Karlsson missed his par putt left.
DIVOTS: This is the ninth straight PGA event decided by a stroke or a playoff. … This is the third time in St. Jude history that the winner has been decided in a playoff in back-to-back years. Don Whitt and Tommy Bolt won playoffs in 1959 and 1960, while Andy Bean and Gil Morgan needed extra holes to win in 1978 and 1979. … Frazar’s 71 in the opening round equals the high start by a winner on tour this year and is just the second over-par opening round by a champion this year. Rory Sabbatini opened the Honda Classic with a 1-over 71, and Bubba Watson started the Farmers Insurance Open with the same score. … Frazar is just the sixth player to make Memphis his first win in the 54-year history of the event.
Photos - Sam Greenword / Getty Images
TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer www.GolfGreedy.com