KAPALUA - Harrison Frazar was beginning to wonder if this day would ever come.
Once considered one of the up-and-comers on the PGA Tour, Frazar didn't get a win until June - less than two months from his 40th birthday - when he broke through in his 355th career start, at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in a playoff with Robert Karlsson.
The victory secured a trip to Maui and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, for which his wife Allison thanked him this week.
Harrison Frazar hits a shot on the way to winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June for his first PGA Tour victory in his 355th start.
AP file photo
"She said she is having a great time and would like to make this an annual trip," Frazar said Monday.
As Frazar wrapped up a practice round at the Kapalua Plantation Course with Jonathan Byrd and Gary Woodland, the smile on his face wouldn't go away.
For a player with more than $10 million in career earnings on tour, but just a little more than $200,000 in 2010 when he made only four of 17 cuts, a win appeared to be moving farther and father out of reach.
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Friday to Monday At Kapalua Plantation Course
Field-Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Byrd, K.J. Choi, Ben Crane, Harrison Frazar, Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, Chris Kirk, Martin Laird, Bryce Molder, Kevin Na, Sean O'Hair, Scott Piercy, D.A. Points, Rory Sabbatini, Webb Simpson, Scott Stallings, Brendan Steele, Steve Stricker, David Toms, Jhonattan Vegas, Johnson Wagner, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Mark Wilson, Gary Woodland.
"This is just a special treat for me and my family," Frazar said next to the 18th green. "It is something we have dreamed about and looked forward to from the outside for about 14, 15 years now. We have been over here before, but never for the tournament, obviously. So to be able to come over here and start the season with this select group of guys, people like the Kapalua group and Hyundai, it is just shows that there really are perks to winning. There really are good things that happen."
Statistics from his win show that Frazar could be a factor this week on the expanse of the Plantation Course when play begins Friday. He led the St. Jude event in driving distance, averaging 316.9 yards off the tee, but was tied for 46th in driving accuracy at 57.14 percent.
"I am not going to say that it's an advantage, but I have been here four or five days and gotten to play golf every day," he said. "My son played with me two days ago and then you get to the family stuff - we went whale watching, too - so it is just a real special, special treat."
Frazar was forced to undergo hip surgery in 2010 and was granted 11 starts on a major medical extension in 2011 to match the 125th spot on the money list. He made just three cuts in the first nine events before his St. Jude win - earning $1.08 million, a two-year exemption and new golf life.
"Pretty much the last two years, I have battled injuries plus age plus fatigue," he said. "The desire to be home and be with your kids, things like that kept me away. There were a lot of times I didn't think it would happen then."
Frazar's wife, three children and in-laws are along for the Maui experience.
Winning "was the farthest thing from my mind until Saturday afternoon in Memphis," he said. "It was off my radar.
I used to say it was a matter of when, not if. But I doubted it would ever happen there for a while."
Frazar lost a playoff to Ernie Els for the 2004 Sony Open title at Waialae Country Club, one of many close calls.
"There's tons, there's so many," Frazar said. "Somebody told me that in my first three years on tour I was within a shot or two of the lead on the back nine on Sunday something like 20-some-odd times. So, I was there. Sometimes I ran into buzz saws, somebody making a bunch of birdies, sometimes I hit bad shots and made double bogeys. I had a ton of opportunities when I was younger.
"The more I pressed and the more I tried to force it, I started getting frustrated, the less and less those opportunities were presenting themselves."
Frazar was second-highest-ranked rookie on the money list in 1998, when he had the first of his four career runner-up finishes.
"I put winning on such a pedestal instead of just playing golf, that it is awfully hard once you get there to stay there," he said. "I wanted it so much that it was misplaced focus. A lot of effort, a lot of heartache over the years."
In Memphis, he bogeyed the 72nd hole before finally fending off Karlsson on the third playoff hole.
"I will put it this way: I think I appreciate this a lot more than some of the other guys," Frazar said. "I know what this means and I know what it takes to get it done. The guys that are rookies and the guys who have won 10 or 12 times, they may not appreciate it the way that I do. This is a tremendous opportunity."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org