KAPALUA, HAWAII (AP) - 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.’”