Harrison Frazar Leads Phoenix Open
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Harrison Frazar started working out seriously to overcome a series of injuries.
Now he’s in the best shape of his life _ and at the top of the Phoenix Open leaderboard at 9-under 62, the lowest score in relation to par in his six-year PGA Tour career.
``You tend to abuse your body and you don’t make up for it,″ Frazar said Thursday. ``By the time I was 29 or 30, it had just caught up to me. It was irresponsible on my part, and I paid the price. I’m not going to let that happen again.″
The 31-year-old former University of Texas player came in with a new driver, new type of ball and a new attitude about putting. It added up to a two-shot lead over David Toms and John Huston, the top three of 89 players who broke par.
Retief Goosen, J.J. Henry, John Rollins, Luke Donald and James McLean shot 65s, and Scott McCarron, Steve Elkington, Ian Leggatt, Charles Howell III, Dan Forsman, Tim Petrovic, Shaun Micheel and Kirk Triplett were another stroke behind.
Former Phoenix winners Tom Lehman (2000) and Vijay Singh (1995) were part of a 10-man group at 67, with four more _ defending champion Chris DiMarco, Rocco Mediate (1999), Phil Mickelson (1996) and Lee Janzen (1993) _ in a cluster of 29 players at 69.
Still, the course was unyielding to some prominent young players _ 21-year-old Aaron Baddeley had a 71, and 18-year-old Ty Tryon fired a 73 _ and to John Daly, who shot a 77 and found himself tied with Glen Hnatiuk and Geoff Ogilvy for last.
Daly, who set a PGA Tour record last year by averaging 306.8 yards per drive, couldn’t get his 3-wood to go straight off the tee.
``The 3-wood ruined my day,″ he said about nearly beaning a duck in a lake alongside No. 15. ``It’s very tough when you’re pulling it left, because you tend to overcompensate.″
Frazar, using a new Cleveland driver and Titleist ball, drove the 332-yard 17th hole to make the last of his eight birdies.
But he was helped by a more subtle addition _ a pretournament talk with psychologist Fran Perazzoli about forgetting the mechanics of putting to concentrate on feedback.
``It gets me trying to make my stroke a little more rhythmic _ a little bit more feel-oriented and direction-oriented instead of worrying so much about, ’Is the putter blade going straight back?‴ Frazar said.
If he can stay loose and focused at the same time, Frazar could be in line for his first win.
He played most of 1999 with a broken hand and missed two months of the 2001 season after having surgery to repair torn ligaments and cartilage in his right hip.
He plugged along, somehow managing to remain among the top 100 money-winners. Frazar began last year still hurt and made only 15 cuts, but had five top-10 finishes.
Frazar had five birdies on the front nine, finishing with three in a row, bogeyed No. 11 but got to 6 under with a 20-foot eagle chip on No. 13 after hitting a 5-wood a yard off the green. He added three more birdies on Nos. 15-17.
Huston got to 64 by birdieing five of the last seven holes. Toms went the other way, double-bogeying the 18th to fall out of the lead after recording his ninth birdie on the previous hole.
``Obviously, I didn’t finish up the way I wanted,″ he said. ``I was thinking, ‘I’m going to make birdie. I’m going to be 10 under. I’m going to be leading the golf tournament.’ But it didn’t happen.″
Huston’s back-nine start included two bogeys. But he also had an eagle on his fourth hole _ the same par-5 Frazar eagled _ and a birdie. After the turn, he birdied five of nine holes.
Toms, playing in his first 2003 event, birdied five consecutive holes from Nos. 9-14, pulling within one shot of the lead.
He got into a tie on No. 17, where he chipped within 5 feet. But he lost two strokes on No. 18, a 438-yard par-4 with a large lake on the left. Toms pulled his tee shot into the water and had to drop another ball.
Divots: Huston tied the front-nine course record with 6-under 29. ... DiMarco is looking to be the fifth player to win back-to-back Phoenix Open titles. The others are: Ben Hogan (1946-47), Jimmy Demaret (1949-50) and Johnny Miller (1974-75). ... Bob Burns aced the 175-yard fourth hole with a 6-iron, but still shot 70. ... The average score was first-round record 69.667.