In an essay ghost-written by Harrison Frazar for SI Golf Plus’ inaugural standalone PGA Tour Confidential issue, he talks about possibly stepping away from the game because his heart isn’t in it anymore. While it’s hard to feel too sorry for a guy who has earned $9.3 million in his career, it’s an interesting and honest look into the mindset of a tour player and the difficulties of being on the road and battling injuries.
In December, I began gearing up for my return to the Tour, and my demeanor changed immediately. I started to get stressed out and snappy. If the line at Starbucks moved a little too slowly, it would drive me crazy, whereas a few months earlier I would’ve been happy to chat with the people in line. Allison drove me to the airport as I was leaving to start my 2011 season at the Hope, and she gave me a great pep talk. “You’re not the same man you were six months ago,” she said. “Just have fun and be yourself.”
During the first round of the Hope, I birdied two of the first four holes. The whole time I was laughing and joking with my amateur partners and having a great time. There was a backup on the 5th tee, and as we waited, my mind began to wander. One overpowering feeling hit me: I don’t like this. I want to go home. I pushed the thought out of my mind and kept playing, but six weeks later I’m still at a crossroads, struggling with my emotions. I know if I play my best, I have enough game to win a tournament. Maybe more than one. But I also know the commitment it will take to play at that level — is it worth the mental anguish and wear and tear on my soul? And if I decide to go for it, will my body hold up? I don’t know the answers to these and many other questions.
I haven’t given up by any means. I’m going to play hard for the rest of this year, see what happens and then make a decision. But I’m coming to grips with the fact that this very well could be my final season on Tour.
The Tour can be a tough place and golf is difficult enough without playing injured. So far the reaction seems to be supportive of Frazar, but ’08 Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger tweeted, “@AlanShipnuck he’s always been a bit negative..guys that love the game and the people and themselves last the longest.”
In the same SI Golf Plus issue, women’s world no. 1 Yani Tseng shares a glimpse of her life on the LPGA, her friendship with childhood hero Annika Sorenstam, and her rise to the top of the rankings. I “helped” Yani write the piece — she’s a great girl and very humble. Basically, she’s living her dream.
I went to see former No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, who is not only my friend but also my role model. We met at her house in Florida in January, and I asked her for advice on how to handle the pressure. She told me that I can’t be afraid and need to embrace the opportunity.
Annika’s advice was helpful. I won my first four starts in 2011, and now I’m No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings. In January I defended my title at the Taifong Ladies Open, an LPGA of Taiwan event. My mother, Yu-Yun Yang, was caddying for me, which made the victory even more special. A few weeks later I traveled to Australia to defend my title at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and I won by seven shots. Before the final round I got an e-mail from Annika that said, “Great playing in Australia. Keep up the good work and bring it home.” The next week I won the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters and moved to the top of the world ranking. I followed that up two weeks ago with a victory at the LPGA opener, in Thailand.
While I was there I was excited and proud that all four big newspapers from my native country of Taiwan covered the tournament. The local media gave me the nickname Queen of Golf. I laughed and said, “Thank you, but I don’t think I’m there yet—I need to continue to work hard.”
I feel honored to have a friend like Annika. At the 2008 Women’s British Open she predicted that I would be No. 1 in four years. When the media told me what she said, I thought it was a joke. When I found out they were serious, I was in shock—my idol believed I was going to be No. 1.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)