On the verge of quitting, Frazar now in paradise

By Doug FergusonJanuary 4, 2012, 3:38 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Christmas arrived a day early in Dallas at the home of Harrison Frazar.

His wife walked into the house holding the mail that Saturday, fighting back tears as she handed him an envelope from Augusta National, both of them knowing it could be only one thing: His invitation to play in the Masters.

“We went into my office, closed the door, opened it and read it,” Frazar said. “And we had a good cry.”

It was sure to be an emotional moment for Frazar, a 40-year-old who took a job in commercial real estate when he left the University of Texas because he didn’t think he was good enough to play golf for a living. It became even more meaningful considering Frazar was on the verge of walking away from the PGA Tour last year.

Frazar is among 12 players at Kapalua who will make their debut in the Tournament of Champions when it begins Friday. Most of the others are in their 20s, just getting started.

What makes this amazing to Frazar is that just seven months ago, he was ready to quit.

Coming off a shortened 2010 season because of surgery to his right shoulder and left hip, Frazar was standing on the tee at the Bob Hope Classic when he began to wonder what he was doing out there.

“I felt empty,” he said. “I began to doubt my skills, my heart, my body, my mind, my own self-worth. I doubted everything.”

He went three months without making a cut. The harder he tried, the worse it would get.

At a dinner during Colonial arranged by friends, a power figure in business and sports marketing—Frazar didn’t say who—dangled an attractive job offer. Two days later, another group of businessmen asked him to consider another job.

Frazar began to realize golf might not be in his future, that it was time to move on. Among those he consulted was Justin Leonard, a former Texas teammate and one of his best friends.

“I remember he told me about one of the offers, and I told him it sounded pretty good,” Leonard said. “I’m pretty close to him. And I could definitely tell he was pretty beat up.”

Frazar was so serious about retiring from golf that he mapped out an exit strategy.

He finally made the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship and tied for 14th. A week later he qualified for the U.S. Open, but he didn’t want his career to end at such a big, busy week.

“I wanted Hartford to be my last tournament,” Frazar said. “I told my caddie, `I’m not going to Memphis. I’m going to play the Open, and then go to Hartford and that will be it.’ He told me I was crazy, that I was hitting it good. So I went to my son’s Little League game, thought about it and said, `I need to go to Memphis.”’

It turned out to be the best decision of his career.

Frazar felt a load lifted when he made up his mind to retire, and he felt at ease with himself. Maybe that’s why he played well at the Nelson and qualified for the U.S. Open. But when he was 3 over through four holes at the St. Jude Classic, Frazar felt himself slipping into his old pattern of getting down on himself.

“I told my caddie, `Don’t talk to me about another shot. Just give me yardage to the flag.’ I’d had it with trying to be perfect. I was going to pick a shot, stand up and hit it,” Frazar said.

What happened next was a blur.

Without realizing it, Frazar was only one shot out of the lead going into the final round. He had a one-shot lead on the final hole when he pulled a 7-iron into the water and had to scramble for bogey. Frazar wound up winning with a par on the third extra hole.

After 14 years and 354 tournaments produced nothing, he was a PGA Tour winner. More than the check of just over $1 million, he received a two-year exemption on tour, a spot in the Tournament of Champions on Maui and that coveted invitation to the Masters.

Frazar never made it to Hartford for his farewell.

“Life had taken a 180 degree flip,” he said. “When I least expected it, I suddenly had a whole different set of issues.”

Retirement from the PGA Tour no longer was one of them.

“Not for two years,” he said with a smile.

His coach, Randy Smith, was giving lessons at Royal Oaks when Frazar worked his way into contention. Smith headed for his office, locked the door and watched the final hour alone, nearly breaking his hand against the desk when Frazar went into the water on the 18th.

When it was over, Smith tried calling him four times and couldn’t leave a message without his voice choking.

“He was beat up. He was worn out,” Smith said. “He felt resigned to the fact that’s what he was going to do, and he felt comfortable about the people he was going to get involved with. He was going to give it everything he had and play free.

“It was not a matter of holding on, because there was nothing to hold onto.”

The perks were immediate. Frazar made it to the British Open for the first time in his career. He played Firestone for the first time. He flew to Shanghai for the World Golf Championship.

And on Christmas Eve, he received his letter from Augusta National.

Other than winning a major, I think it’s the most coveted thing in golf,” Frazar said. “It’s probably not as big of a deal to the younger guys. They don’t realize how hard it is. But when you’ve tried for 14 or 15 years, it’s a real emotional moment.”

He kept that invitation in a small stack of letters he has received over the years, from former presidents George H.W. Bush, Ben Crenshaw, former Texas coach Darrell Royal, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson, who wrote to Frazar after he lost in New Orleans a decade ago, “You learn more from your failures than your successes. Always be honest with yourself and keep your head up.”

Four days after getting the letter, Frazar loaded up his three sons and other family members and headed for Maui. He couldn’t wait to get to Kapalua, and even now, it’s hard to believe how he got here.

“The first day we were here, the kids were out playing in the surf and my wife came up to me and said, `Good job, honey.”’

Watch live coverage of the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Golf Channel: Fri.-Sun., 6-10PM ET; Monday, 4-8PM ET.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose shot a 7-under 65 Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for an overall 15-under 201. The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is chasing his second Race to Dubai title but leading rival Tommy Fleetwood is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit crown, is tied for 13th on 10 under.

Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”