MEMPHIS, June 13, 2011 (AFP) - Harrison Frazar defeated Robert Karlsson at the third hole of a sudden-death playoff on Sunday to claim the first USPGA Tour title of his career in his 355th attempt.
Frazar won the St. Jude Classic little more than a month before his 40th birthday. His victory was sealed when Sweden's Karlsson missed his par putt.
"I never thought it would happen to be honest with you," an emotional Frazar told a television interviewer moments after his victory.
Frazar, who is playing on a major medical exemption after surgeries on his hip and shoulder last year, admitted he had been thinking of giving up golf.
"It just shows you how sometimes when you let your guard down or let your expectations soften, you can free yourself up," Frazar said.
He arrived in Memphis having made four of nine cuts this season, although he did qualify for a berth in next week's US Open at Congressional Country Club.
"The last couple years have been really long and really hard," Frazar said.
Frazar admitted that winning brought a host of new questions, and he was a little concerned he might have missed a few points of ettiquette.
"It was a whirlwind there," he said of the trophy presentation ceremony. "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 the volunteers. I was not quite sure really what was happening right then."
Frazer got the job done when it counted, however, becoming the seventh first-time winner on the US tour this year.
He had a chance to win in regulation, but made his first bogey of the day at the 72nd hole to set up the playoff.
Frazar carded a three-under 67 at the TPC Southwind to finish alongside Karlsson on 13-under 267.
Karlsson, who took a one-stroke lead into the final round, carded a 68.
For the playoff, the two returned first to 18.
Both found the green in two and both two-putted for par.
They moved on to the par-three 11th, where both parred.
At the third playoff hole, the par-four 12th, both were in the fairway. Frazar ended up with a two-putt par while Karlsson was unable to save par after missing the green with his second shot.
Colombia's Camilo Villegas fired a final-round 64 for a share of third place on 272.
He was tied with Tim Herron (65), Japan's Ryuji Imada (66), Charles Howell (66) and South African Retief Goosen (69).
Defending champion Lee Westwood of England closed with a 66 for 274, tied with John Merrick (72).
The final round became a two-man race early on. After catching Karlsson several times, Frazar finally took the lead alone when the Swede bogeyed the 17th.
Frazar promptly gave the shot back at 18, however, as his second shot hit near the green and rolled into the water.
Karlsson then made an eight-footer for par.
"He played great, and I played good as well," Karlsson said. "It's one of those days where I think most of us had a lot of fun out there. Congratulate him on a great win. He played great in the last round after sort of being injured and stuff like that. He played really well."
Leading scores on Sunday after the final round of the $5.6 million US PGA St. Jude Classic (x-won at third playoff hole; USA unless noted, par-70):
267 - x-Harrison Frazar 71-65-64-67, Robert Karlsson (SWE) 66-65-68-68
272 - Camilo Villegas (COL) 69-69-70-64, Tim Herron 73-65-69-65, Ryuji Imada (JPN) 70-68-68-66, Charles Howell 72-67-67-66, Retief Goosen (RSA) 68-71-64-69
273 - Stephen Ames (CAN) 69-68-68-68, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 69-69-67-68, Cameron Tringale 71-68-66-68
274 - Lee Westwood (GBR) 69-70-69-66, John Merrick 66-69-67-72
275 - David Mathis 65-72-72-66, Robert Allenby (AUS) 70-71-67-67
276 - Fabian Gomez (ARG) 67-70-71-68
277 - Rod Pampling (AUS) 75-66-68-68
278 - Greg Chalmers (AUS) 72-69-66-71
279 - Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 73-69-66-71, Fredrik Jacobson (SWE) 71-65-68-75
280 - Nick O'Hern (AUS) 71-66-77-66, John Daly 69-73-71-67, Brian Davis (GBR) 71-70-69-70, Cameron Percy (AUS) 70-70-70-70
281 - David Hearn (CAN) 69-70-69-73
282 - Padraig Harrington (IRL) 70-72-72-68
284 - Aron Price (AUS) 69-71-74-70
286 - Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 71-70-72-73
287 - John Senden (AUS) 69-73-70-75
289 - Richard S. Johnson (SWE) 74-68-72-75