By Cary Estes, Special to PGATOUR.COM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – As the owner of a vineyard in his native South Africa and a lover of fine wine, David Frost already has a special bottle lined up to celebrate the first major championship victory of his career. Sometime on Monday, Frost plans to uncork a Château Beychevelle Bordeaux from 1959 – the year he was born – in honor of his win in Sunday’s Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek.
“We’ll definitely be drinking that when I get home tomorrow night,” Frost said with a smile.
It will be a well-earned celebratory drink for Frost, who had to overcome a 68-minute rain delay with only three holes to play Sunday, and also withstand a strong push from runner-up Fred Couples to win the Regions Tradition by one shot.
Frost fired a 4-under 68 on Sunday to finish at 16-under 272. He matched Couples’ birdie on No. 16 to maintain his one-stroke edge, and then was able to two-putt for victory on the final hole when Couples’ 12-foot birdie attempt slid just to the left of the cup.
Frost appeared both excited and exhausted after the completion of Sunday’s round. He admitted that the combination of the rain delay and the head-to-head duel with one of the best players on the Champions Tour had left him a bit drained both physically and mentally.
“I’m delighted to have finally won a major tournament. It’s a very satisfying feeling,” Frost said. “It wasn’t easy, having the rain delay with just three holes to go. But these things don’t come easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. You don’t win majors by having someone hand it to you on a plate.
“When we came in for the (rain delay), I sat there and said to myself that he (Couples) has nothing to lose. He’s going to go out there and fire at the pins, and I have to just accept it and be up to the challenge.”
The biggest challenge came immediately after the rain delay, when Couples hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th hole to within 10 feet of the cup. Frost followed with a solid tee shot that ended up about 15 feet away from the pin. Frost then stepped up and calmly drained the birdie putt, enabling him to maintain his one-shot lead even after Couples made a birdie of his own on No. 16.
“There wasn’t nearly as much pressure on the putt as there was on my tee shot,” Frost said. “I knew he was about 10 feet from the hole and could make it. So I just tried to be as relaxed as I could over the tee shot and not put any pressure on myself and tried to hit it close, and it worked out.”
In addition to enjoying his special bottle of Bordeaux, Frost said there are some other benefits that will come with winning his first career major.
“At my club in Dallas (Preston Trail) there is a line of (photos) of all the professionals who are members there, and each professional who has won a major has a little plaque under his name,” Frost said. “Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Scott Verplank, David Graham. I feel proud that there will now be a little plaque under my name.
“I also have a friend in South Africa who is the club professional at Pretoria Country Club who said he would shave off his beard if I ever won a major. So I’ll be calling him tomorrow. His beard is going to finally come off now.”
Sunday’s win gives Frost 30 victories in his professional career, including 10 on the regular PGA Tour and five on the Champions Tour. But by capturing a major championship for the first time (the closest he came on the regular PGA TOUR was fifth in the 1995 Masters), Frost said he does have a greater sense of accomplishment about his overall career.
“It sort of rounds it out a little bit,” Frost said. “Ideally you’d want to win a major on the regular tour, but second-best is to win one out here (on the Champions Tour). You go through such hard work playing golf, trying to accomplish these things. You practice as hard as ever. Then to win (a major) at the end of the day is just a bonus.
“I’m going to have some enjoyable times the next couple of weeks.”