The final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic evolved into a golfing duel between two very different personalities, but as pronounced as the contrast between Harrison Frazar (not ‘Frasier’!), a Tour veteran of 13 years, and Robert Karlsson, one of the European Tour’s leading lights, was at times, both spent the day managing the same, bowel-tightening pressure that anticipates a first PGA Tour victory.
After twenty-one holes of anxious thrust and counter-thrust, it was Frazar who proved a touch more resilient than his Nordic opponent, a tap-in for par eventually enough to secure victory at the third hole of sudden-death.
Frazar’s career had hardly been a failure to this point– the man’s cumulative earnings were already nudging their way toward the $10m mark– but its highlights had been lucrative near-misses of the sort that, over time, erode rather than augment one’s sense of self-worth. How else could you explain his recent consideration of retirement, if not in terms of fatalism and a wavering faith in sporting destiny?
Those doubts can recede into the background for the time being at least, with the 39-year-old set to make an appearance at next year’s Masters and the Tournament of Champions in Maui. Beyond that season, though, he’s not willing to make any commitments:
“I’ve had really good support from fellow players and from peers, from caddies, from a lot of my family out here on the Tour, where they understand, they know the sacrifices that we make to be away from our kids.
And it’s not like this has just been a 14-year career. This started when I was 10 years old, 11 years old, of traveling all around the country playing in golf tournaments. I’m now almost 40. So I guess that’s almost 30 years.
“It’s been awhile. This is not about bad play. It’s about — it’s about how do I get my game back up to that level and can I make those sacrifices. I didn’t know if I could… I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a 40-year-old that’s been out here 15 years who hasn’t thought maybe it’s time that I find something else to do.
So, you know, I know I’m going to be doing this for another two years now, but after that, I have no idea.”
As heavy as his veteran status might weigh upon his shoulders, Frazar was utterly new to one aspect of Sunday’s PGA Tour carnival: victory celebration. As he only belatedly realised, finishing first carries with it a whole raft of technicalities and responsibilities:
“It was a whirlwind there. This was the first time… I don’t know if I’m supposed to keep the seersucker jacket. I don’t know if I’m supposed to carry the trophy. You don’t know who you’re supposed to talk to. I felt bad. I didn’t thank the sponsors. I didn’t thank FedEx. I didn’t thank the volunteers. I was not quite sure really what was happening right then.
“The only tournament that I won in Q-school, you walked in, signed your card in the scoring trailer, and they gave you a pat on the back, ‘Good job.’ You walked out the door. There was nobody there.”
Sunday’s victory might appear a fitting exclamation point at the end of the career’s rambling sentence, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Frazar manages to re-visit the winner’s circle again before he calls time on his dalliance with professional golf.