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On verge of retiring, Frazar now in paradise
Question of the Day
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.
By Michael P. Orsi
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