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Frazar Set to Defend in Memphis
Journeyman Harrison Frazar was on a medical exemption last year on the PGA Tour and needed a breakthrough to maintain his playing status. After missing five straight cuts to start the season, Frazar, now 40, took some time off to assess his future.
The likeable Dallas resident and father of three returned to competition and had a promising tie for 14th in the Byron Nelson. But he had only two tournaments left on the exemption and needed to reach $600,000 in earnings to retain his card. Frazar then came through in a big way in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
In what would be one of the Tour's feel-good stories of the year, Frazar closed with a 3-under 67 to finish tied for the lead with Robert Karlsson at 13-under 267. On the third hole of the sudden death playoff, he edged the Swede when Karlsson missed a 12-foot par attempt to extend the overtime session.
The first win of Frazar's career - in 355 starts - gave him that much-needed victory in addition to $1.008 million, enough to secure his card through 2013.
On Wednesday, Frazar met with reporters and talked about what that big win meant to him, not only in securing his status as a PGA Tour regular but emotionally as well. Here's what he had to tell the media on the eve of the 2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic, which starts Thursday at TPC Southwind and where Frazar is the defending champion.
MODERATOR: Harrison Frazar, thanks for joining us for a few minutes, defending champion here at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Just some comments on being back here. We remember last year when you were here after you won, it sounded like it really resurrected your whole career getting a win. So a year later just some comments on how you're feeling as you're prepared to defend your title.
HARRISON FRAZAR: Okay. Well, obviously last year was a turning point for me and for my family and for my golf career. It's no secret I had decided to walk away from the game. I had had enough and was on that path. So all of a sudden I had to flip it 180 degrees again and figure out how to be a golfer again. The last 12 months has been a bit of a whirlwind with the tournaments that I had kind of given up hope on that I was going to get to play.
What comes with that is a lot more play than I kind of wanted to, a lot more practice, a lot more grinding. But at the same time, when I do decide to take time off or not play well, it's okay to let it go and not worry about the results so much. So it's been nice. I would have rather have played maybe a little bit less, but you know, it's been nice to be able to experience that for a year. Now, coming back to Memphis is - obviously the minute I got off the airplane and saw some of the ads for the tournament, it made me feel really good to know that I had had a very, very successful week here last year.
Q. How is your body holding up the last year, and how are you feeling this week?
HARRISON FRAZAR: You know, I've had some issues, just with left hip and with stuff that's all kind of connected with it. It hasn't been a breeze, but I've had moments that I've played really well and had times where I've felt great. I've had some other times where I needed to go home and take some time off. You know, right now I happen to be in a little bit of a phase I'm not feeling my best, but it's certainly manageable with some therapy and some soft tissue stuff. I'm doing the best I can. I'm not 25 anymore, and my body has just taken a beating. I need to do a better job of taking care of it.
Q. How extensive is your schedule over the next few months, and how different is it - you said you're playing a lot more tournaments than you thought you would play.
HARRISON FRAZAR: Well, up until this point I have because after the win last year, all of a sudden I was in - I was in Shanghai, I was in Akron. There were just some other things in there. Then starting out the year at Kapalua and Hawaii, and I played well and was feeling great, and I thought, I'm going to just - I'm on the verge of something else. So I think I've already played 15 events maybe this year, 15, maybe even 16. So I'm sure we can look that up.
HARRISON FRAZAR: So where I was at this point last year, I had played nine coming into this. Now, after this is over, of course I'd like to go play because that's how we make money, and it feels good to play well. But depending on how I feel and how my game is going and what the kids are doing, I expect to play another - maybe another six or eight events before the FedEx Cup starts.
Q. Jack Nicklaus was quoted last week, he was advising Rory McIlroy to go practice at the Open site, and he said no offense to this tournament, but nobody remembers who won last year's Memphis tournament. You take his point, but I take it you do remember who won last year at the Memphis tournament?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Yeah. You know, I remember that, and I think I know what Jack is trying to say, is that in the long run, yes. But to the player that wins, it's a big deal. And to his family it's a big deal, to his friends and the people that are close to him and associated with him it's a big deal. You know, I think we've got to try to remember Jack's lens that he's looking through is a little bit different than most. There's very, very few that can view life that way. I don't know if I agree with that advice, but I think it's important for guys to play as much as they can when they're younger to figure out where they like to go and where they don't like to. If somebody tells them what they like and what they don't like, how do they know? They've got the rest of their life to kind of follow their own path, you know. But I remember very clearly what happened last year.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at the course much and how it might have changed from last year?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Last year the golf course to my knowledge played very firm and very fast. It was kind of dusty. Yeah, the greens were absolutely perfect last year and the rough wasn't too high. Now, I did the qualifier Monday in Ohio to try to qualify for the U.S. Open and missed, was not able to get here until yesterday about 2:00. So I have nothing on the golf course yet. I don't know how it's playing. I'm sure if it plays soft, it's going to make some of those holes - especially if the fairways are soft and the greens are firm, which it has been in the past after rains, the golf course can play very hard. But if the greens are soft, scores will be low.
Q. What's the biggest change that you experienced this year after a win on the PGA Tour?
HARRISON FRAZAR: You know, I haven't experienced a big change. People still treat me the same. I try to treat people the same. The biggest thing is I don't have to travel to a tournament site on Monday mornings anymore. I can come in on Tuesdays and practice and play in the afternoons. I don't have to get that full day on Tuesday in because I'm in the pro ams on Wednesday. That's really pretty much it. Everything else is the same. You know, it's still a grind at times, and it still seems easy at others.
Q. Talking about how you played a little more than you wanted to, I'm sure that you're happy that this past year has happened.
HARRISON FRAZAR: Uh huh.
Q. But are you feeling some of that tug between golf, family balance, that never completely goes away; a win doesn't solve anything, it's just another side of the issue that you were looking at when you decided that you were going to leave?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Yeah, I would say that when I won last year, I felt like I had this hall pass, if you want to call it, for the next year to just do whatever I wanted to do. And I felt like I had been given this new lease on life. And the truth is that at heart we're competitors, and nobody likes to go home and go to bed after a bad performance. So you push yourself. You still want to play well. And you have to play to play well. There's so few people that can play one week or two and then take off six weeks and then come back and play well. So you have to play to put yourself into position to play well.
And so you put in that competitiveness and the fact that you're going to work and you're going to be trying to get on top of your game, and you have to be gone, and yeah, at times your family is going to suffer a little bit because you've got to be selfish and you've got to go. It never goes away as long as you're trying to be competitive. Once you're ready to - if you can ever get to the point where you really don't care about your results, then yeah, I think you can relax and focus on your kids and not worry about golf anymore, because the game is too hard just to be able to do everything well, meaning you can't be the best husband and the best father and the best golfer all at the same time. You've got to learn to segment that out. And sometimes something is going to get left out.
MODERATOR: Harrison, we appreciate your time, and best of luck this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.