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June 12, 2011

Harrison Frazar


DOUG MILNE: Okay. I know this is clearly the happiest time you've ever been in a Media Center. I'd like to welcome the 2011 FedEx St. Jude Classic champion, Harrison Frazar. Congratulations on a well-deserved and long overdue win. I heard you outside, somebody was asking you and you said that it was literally weeks ago that you seriously considering giving it up, but you didn't and it obviously paid off and you're now PGA TOUR champion. Just some thoughts on the week and I know you also said that you really haven't had a chance to digest everything and soak it all in, which will obviously take sometime. Some initial thoughts on the week and how you feel.
HARRISON FRAZAR: I think it just shows you how sometimes when you let your guard down or you let your expectations soften, you can free yourself up. I talked to a bunch of people at home over the last month or so about my life after golf, and the reception was pretty warm. So it made me almost feel better about myself, where it made me realize I'm going to go play golf here the next month, the next two months, on my own terms and do it for me, not because I'm worried about trying to keep a medical exemption or trying to win a golf tournament or trying to make somebody proud, you know, whatever all the reasons are that people do things that are the wrong reasons.
But the two weeks before the Byron Nelson, I realized that I really enjoy playing golf when there's not that kind of.
DOUG MILNE: Pressure?
HARRISON FRAZAR: -- pressure and heat and overanalyzing and overworking. When all that stuff is not on it, I really like this game and I started to play better. Even at home, I started hitting the ball more crisp, I started making putts. But if you would have asked me three weeks ago if I thought I would be sitting here right now, I would have told you absolutely not.
So, this is -- you know, I was 3-over par at four holes on Thursday this week, and, you know, on this golf course that can happen, but it could not have happened if I was trying to win a golf tournament. It happened because I relaxed and I started playing golf and seeing the shots and just hitting it and just playing the game.
DOUG MILNE: Before we open up for questions, I have one more. You obviously seem like a very introspective person, is your predominant approach to things. How do you think this win -- and it's probably way too early for you to even answer the question or think about it, how do you think this win will impact that approach that you previously had to the game and your status on the PGA TOUR?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Well, I don't know the answer to that. I think that hopefully this will free me up to go out and play more for the pure love and the pure enjoyment of competing and playing golf, which is why we all get started in it.
I would be remiss if I were to say that this isn't going to change my life. I heard David Toms say that at Colonial. David is a good, close friend. You know, whether or not he wins a golf tournament, yeah, it's probably not going to change his life. This probably is going to change my life. It's not going to change me, it's not going to change my wife or my kids, but it's probably going to change my life and the fact that I'll be 40 in July. This will take me to 42 or 43.
DOUG MILNE: Your phone will be ringing a lot more.
HARRISON FRAZAR: The phone will be ringing. Hopefully I'll get some -- to get a chance to go now and playing Maui and play Augusta. Those are two dreams and they're two -- I accomplished three goals today that I've had for 15 years, you know, which is to win a tournament, play in Maui, play in Augusta.
That's pretty cool. I haven't had a chance to really wrap my arms around it yet, but it's pretty cool. I never thought that all three would come at once. But they have to. So this is pretty neat.
DOUG MILNE: I know you said you haven't been able to get in touch with your family yet. What do you imagine the reaction is going to be?
HARRISON FRAZAR: I'm sure they're going to be, you know, screaming happy. I think they're fighting their way through security at DFW Airport right now, trying to get to Washington, D.C. My -- two of my good friends are here. They came in and surprised me.
I had no idea they were here. They apparently have been there since the second hole. They've bee trying call Allison for about the last hour. She's not answering. I'm assuming her phone is either blown up or she's trying to get through the airport with three screaming kids.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. With that, I will just open it up for some questions.

Q. Another thing you said was a goal was perhaps to bring a trophy home to your son to show him what a trophy looks like. What it's going to mean to bring that trophy home to your kid?
HARRISON FRAZAR: You know, two weeks ago I was out on a baseball field with an eight-year-old team, second grade, Little Red Sox socks.
One of the little guys had realized or noticed that I hadn't played in awhile, and he had said, "Mr. Frazar, when are you going to go back and play golf again?"
I said, "I don't know. Figured out, maybe the Byron Nelson."
He said, "Are you going to win?"
I said, "I don't know. I'll figure it out."
He said, "Have you ever won?"
"No, I haven't ever won."
And my middle boy, who is so hyperaggressive, he said, "Yes, you did."
I said, "You're right, son, I've won."
He said, "Yeah, but you didn't get a trophy."
I said, "I know."
He said, "I think you're going to get a trophy pretty soon."
DOUG MILNE: Smart kid.
HARRISON FRAZAR: I didn't think it was going to be that soon. I got a message from my oldest last night, he was with a friend, and, you know, he's 11 now and it's about texting, right? He texts me, "Dad, proud of you, love you, you're going to do great tomorrow" and said "bring it home and can't wait to see you in D.C."
You know, the fact now that I'm getting those kind of communications with them to where they get it, you know, they understand what this is about, and they understand the hard work, they see it. They see what I do at home. And they -- so hopefully they'll enjoy it and appreciate it, also. Yeah, all of them. For all of them, that trophy is coming home.

Q. Enough of this happy talk. How did you hit it in the water on 18?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Why did I hit it in the water? I wanted to make it interesting. I felt bad for Robert (laughter).
You know, I'm not really sure how it happened. I was comfortable with the yardage, I was comfortable with the club. I was comfortable with the target. I was trying to hit it inside right edge of the green, turn it to the center, try to get it 20 feet. Make sure I got it back up on top of that slope, kept it on the green, didn't go over the back edge, get it pin high or past it so that there was -- just putt it down the hill.
The ball was a little bit above my feet. I'm not giving excuses and the wind was right to left. I think I just didn't allow for it enough. It felt like a good swing. The contact was solid, the ball started maybe 10 steps right of the flag and started turning. I was trying to start it 30 steps -- 30 to 40 feet right of the flag, not 10, 15.
The shot really wasn't -- it wasn't horrible, wasn't like a nervous thing. There was no angst, no hurry up and get this over with. I was completely calm and lucid. Probably more so than I had been all today. I just hit a bad shot.

Q. Talk about your ability to scramble today, just how many times you thought maybe you were going to be out of it but you stayed in?
HARRISON FRAZAR: I really never thought I was out of it. I thought I hit that loose tee shot on No. 9 over in the right trees and hit a nice pitch shot out. Then Robert stuffed it to about 6 inches. So that was a time I thought I might fall 2 back, might lose some ground.
But on this golf course, anything can happen quick. You can get on the wrong side of it if you're not careful. It can jump up and bite you. You never know, you never think you're out of it.
I'm not really quite sure, I think I hit really good shot at 10, hit a great shot at 11, missed putts. Made a good par save at 12. I think when I made the 10-footer on 12 for par, once again I feel like I kind of calmed down.
You ride waves. You go up and down while you're out there. You just want the highs not to be too high and of course cliche, you don't want the lows to be too low. When I made the par putt, I felt pretty good.

Q. After you had knocked the ball in the water on 18, what kind of wave were you riding walking up there? Because you kind of had to get it back together again to hit a tough wedge and you hit such a great wedge. You almost thinking that might win it, he's like 8 feet away to make this putt.
HARRISON FRAZAR: As soon as the ball went in the water, the first thing I told myself -- well, we weren't sure if it went into the water. My caddy was trying to tell me that it stayed up. I was pretty sure it went in. But the first thing I told myself was, depending on the shot he hits, he still has to make par because I am going to get that up and down. So, he still has to make par to try to get in a playoff.
I feel like I chipped the ball pretty well this week. I had a nice session a few weeks ago and had a few pointers about a week ago on chipping that's really kind of helped me out. So I felt very comfortable with that chip. I've hit that chip before.
But when I saw he hit it over there to the right of the green, I thought I still might win in regulation because I knew how fast that was. I was 99 percent sure that I was going to either chip it in or get it up and down.

Q. I read the piece in SI, obviously wrote the piece in SI about maybe stepping away. What was the reaction to it both on Tour and off in terms of people obviously think you've got the best life ever. What was the reaction to it? And then was it liberating to sort of say that out loud? Is that partly what enables you to play the golf you've been able to play, good golf?
HARRISON FRAZAR: I don't think it was really liberating to go say it out loud. Anybody that knows me knows that that's been there for awhile. That probably didn't surprise them any. I think that it ruffled a few feathers. 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. So, now I had a few people that were emotionally attached so it and they were upset. They wouldn't talk to me for about a week after that article came out.
Once they realized that me saying that in the article is not -- I was not packing it in. That's me just being brutally honest about what it's like for somebody at my age and at my stage of my career. 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.

Q. Can you think back to you see the putt that Karlsson had to make to try and extend the playoff, it doesn't go in. At what point did you realize, "Okay, I won" and how much did you enjoy the trophy presentation and all the -- that goes along with being a winner?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Robert putted so well today, that I really -- I thought he was going to make it. I was trying to get myself ready to hit the tee shot on 18. I thought that was the only thing to do, the only appropriate thing.
So when it missed, it still didn't hit me until his ball actually came to a stop 2 1/2, 3 feet past the hole. When his ball stopped and it didn't last minute tumble in, even though I could see the hole, that's when I realized, you know, my God, the patience pays off and the hard work is coming to fruition.
It was a world-wind 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, didn't thank FedEx, I didn't thank the volunteers. I was not quite sure really what was happening right then. Hopefully now they always say to act like you've been there before. I couldn't act like that (laughter). I didn't know. 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.
I didn't know what to do. But I hope I did okay. Hopefully I'll be a good champion for FedEx and for the St. Jude. Hopefully I'll carry myself and handle myself appropriately and make them proud.

Q. Going down the back-9, did this feel like a match-play event?
HARRISON FRAZAR: It did not until No. 14. We both hit it on the front of the green, and I putted up to about, I don't know, a foot or so for par. Walked over to the side -- you couldn't help with that scoreboard right there across the water is huge. I had told myself I was not going to look all day because I didn't want to get involved in that, I didn't care about winning the golf tournament. I wanted to go play good golf. And I would look up maybe on 16 and see where we stood.
But I caught a quick glimpse of it right there on 14 and I realized that we had maybe -- 5 shots clear.
HARRISON FRAZAR: I think 5, Retief might have been the closest at 8, I think at the time that was when it started to feel like a match-play-type situation and we kind of traded blows back and forth. I thought I had the advantage on 16 when I hit a really nice flop shot, but I missed about an 8-footer for birdie. Once again I thought I had the advantage on 17, I thought I was going to make that putt. Where he was for par was a very difficult putt. I thought that might have been a 2-shot swing.
It felt like match-play. We were both real loose and real comfortable. We were talking and chatty. It wasn't nerve-racking.

Q. Just one housekeeping question. Did you hit driver off of 12 tee in the playoff?

Q. When were you talking to people about what you were going to do if you stepped away from the game, what people were you talking to, what did you talk about doing? You said you got positive feedback, but in what way and from whom?
HARRISON FRAZAR: Well, I'd rather not get into specifics about who and what, but I wanted to stay involved in golf and I want to stay involved in professional golf at some level. So I had some talks with some people about helping get involved in running golf tournaments, something about working maybe for the Tour, maybe --
Q. Next commissioner?
HARRISON FRAZAR: No. No. No. Not smart enough.
You know, tournament-director-type situation somewhere, a player-liaison-type situation, a player agent, or some type of sports marketing situation that's specific to golf.
So those are the areas I think that I would focus on, and I still see myself going there in the future. But I hope that they understand when I e-mail them tonight and say our plans are going to have to be put on hold (laughter).
DOUG MILNE: Couple more.

Q. When were you speaking to them, it was with the idea of doing it at that point sooner rather than later?
HARRISON FRAZAR: It was with the idea with doing it at the end of this year, yeah. It was there and they were ready. They were onboard, both groups. And, you know, I can think that when -- you said enough of this happy talk, but here we go again (laughter). When things are struggling, okay, when things aren't going good, you can get on a downward spiral sometimes. Sometimes it takes somebody outside that realm to say we believe in, you're valid, you're worthwhile. And that makes everything start to rise back up again, and as quickly as you can get going down, you can go back up.
I think that having people that were outside of my immediate peer group and outside of my family saying that they believed in me was the difference.

Q. This may be an offshoot of that, but you said for you it's never been a matter of talent but a matter of the sacrifices you have to make. Explain a little bit.
HARRISON FRAZAR: Well, early in my career I tried to make the sacrifices, and it was very selfish. You have to be selfish in this game up to a certain level. When we started having kids, I didn't want to be selfish anymore, and so it was real easy for me not to go to the gym and take the kids to school to -- if my wife had something else to do, say, "Yeah, I'm done at noon, I'll go pick the kids up, I'll spend the day with them." Because I would rather do that than be out sweating, hitting hundreds of balls at a time.
That's the sacrifices that I'm talking about.
The other ones are, we have to leave our house, you know, we have -- you have to leave town. I made the comment during the Nelson, "I sure do love golf, but I sure wish the tournaments were three days and all in North Texas." (Laughter). That's not going to happen, either.
So you got to get on a plane and go. When your four-year-old is in the car and he starts crying and puts your arms around you and says "Daddy, don't leave," it's really, really hard to walk through that door and go get on the plane. I've managed to do it for 13 years. I haven't done it very well at times. I've been just as upset as they have. So that's another sacrifice I'm talking about.
DOUG MILNE: Take one more here.

Q. I'm sure you're not really into the history of the hospital, this tournament and a lot of other things, and you probably will be in short notice. From the very beginning, from the hospital, the tournament and everything else, there has been a thread of getting over lost causes, hopelessness, all sorts of that sort of thing.
It would appear to me just in my mind that you're the latest in that long string of so-called not necessarily miracles, but whatever you want to call it. How do you feel --
HARRISON FRAZAR: It's funny you say that. Standing out there on 18 green when we finally made it back from 12, before we went to go try on the jacket, we had about five, ten minutes there, and I had the exact same thought, that there's a lot -- now, my situation isn't life-threatening, of course. I mean, these kids are sick and they need help. But there is a certain degree of despair, there's a certain degree of feeling lost and hopeless. You know, even though it's over something silly like golf, right? But I definitely feel a parallel, and I can relate, and yeah, the same thought hit me.
I get a lot of inspiration and feel a lot of motivation from seeing people persevere. I played in the called the Folds of Honor, a charity tournament on Memorial Day in Tulsa Oklahoma. I play with a gentleman who was a double amputee. He loves the game. He was a 4, 5 handicap before. Doesn't play well now, but he had infection in his bone. He was in tremendous pain, and he was still out there playing in the Pro-Am. And when he couldn't play anymore, his 14-year-old boy stepped in to play for him. And the passion and the love that that man showed for his son, trying to pass on his knowledge and his passion of golf, that whole combination of that day, that lifted me up, you know. Because here's people that they've really seen it tough. And it almost makes me nauseous at times to know the way I feel about things when these guys, here he's a double amputee. He's got a better attitude than I do. Should be ashamed of myself.
So, that lifts me up, too.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Well, Harrison, 2011 FedEx St. Jude champion. That's got a good ring to it.
HARRISON FRAZAR: That sounds good.

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