For the second straight year, the FedEx St. Jude Classic will be decided in a playoff after another mistake on the 18th hole at TPC Southwind.
Leading by one coming to the final hole of regulation, Harrison Frazar pulled his approach shot left and into the water on the difficult par-4 finishing hole.
That opened the door for Robert Karlsson, who led most of the day. With a chance to redeem himself and force extra holes, Karlsson missed his approach shot to the right of the green but got up-and-down for par, sinking an 8-foot, 9-inch putt.
Frazar, who dropped just off the green and chipped it close, then made his putt for bogey to drop back to 13 under and into a tie with Karlsson. The two will head back to the tee on the 18th hole to begin the playoff.
A year ago, Robert Garrigus triple-bogeyed the final hole of regulation to lose a three-shot lead and was eliminated on the first hole of a three-man playoff eventually won by Lee Westwood.
This marks the ninth straight week that a PGA TOUR event will be decided by one stroke or in a playoff.
With the FedEx St. Jude Classic basically coming down to essentially match play between Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar, here’s a look at how the two have played the final three holes at TPC Southwind.
Karlsson has played Nos. 16 through 18 in a collective even par with two birdies and two bogeys. The latter of course could be fresh in the Swede’s mind since he bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 to close out his third round.
Frazar on the other hand is a combined 4 under with four birdies and no bogeys -- he birdied Nos. 16 and 18 in the second and third rounds.
There’s a little over nine holes to play for the final group at TPC Southwind, but the way things are going it’s turned into a two-man race between Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar in that group.
Karlsson is 13 under (2 under today) and so is Frazar (3 under today) after a bogey by the former on the par-3 eighth. Both are trying to win on the PGA TOUR for the first time in their respective careers.
Retief Goosen is the next closest player, but he’s four shots back after playing his first eight holes in 2 under.
A number of others, including Charles Howell III and Camilo Villegas, are at 4 under and have moved into the top 10 but all are well back of the lead and running out of holes.
After failing to take advantage of the par-5 third hole, Robert Karlsson responded with a birdie on the par-3 fourth.
Karlsson stuck his approach to just over six feet on the par-3, which is playing as the seventh most difficult hole on the course right now.
Playing partner Harrison Frazar, who was briefly tied for the lead with Karlsson, missed the green short but got up and down on No. 4 to save par.
Thanks to birdies on two of his first three holes, including an impressive one from the left rough on the opening hole, Harrison Frazar is tied for the lead with Robert Karlsson at 12 under.
Frazar’s other birdie came on the par-5 third hole, where he rolled in a 16-footer.
Karlsson, meanwhile, also opened with a birdie but he failed to capitalize on the par-5 third. After missing the green left on his second shot there, Karlsson left his pitch short of the green and had to get up and down just to salvage par.
Retief Goosen birdied his first two holes, but he also failed to capitalize on the par-5 third. Still, he’s just three shots off the lead in the early going of the final round.
We’re currently two-thirds of the way through the 2011 PGA TOUR Regular Season, as the FedEx St. Jude Classic marks the final 11-week stretch of 33 weeks toward the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Leader Robert Karlsson sits 98th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-10 in his first 10 starts of the season. That will obviously change today and could in a big way -- Karlsson could move as high as 27th with a victory this week.
Harrison Frazar, meanwhile, entered the week 178th in the FedExCup standings after coming off his first top-15 finish of the season at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he tied for 14th.
Frazar could potentially crack the top 70 in the standings with a win this week. He needs to finish solo fourth or better to move inside the top 125 in the standings.
Currently 145th in the standings, John Merrick could jump as
high as 32nd with a win. Merrick will likely need
to finish solo 14th to move inside the top 125.
Retief Goosen is 147th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-25 finish this season, but he too could make a big leap. Last year, Goosen accumulated 464 points in the final 11 weeks of the season, which included three top-10 finishes. Right now, he’s projected to move to 94th in the standings.
Here’s a breakdown of today’s final pairing, Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar, who will tee off in about a half hour. Karlsson was cruising along in the third round until a couple of late bogeys -- and a birdie by Frazar on the final hole -- cut the Swede’s lead to just one.
· Karlsson is now 21 under in his last seven rounds at
TPC Southwind with 31 birdies, and just 10
bogeys in his last 126 holes played here.
· Karlsson has been dialed in with his irons hitting 72 percent of the greens in regulation -- tied for first in the field -- and is averaging just over of 30 feet to the pin on all approach shots (18th in the field).
· Around the greens, Karlsson has successfully salvaged par or better 12 times (out of 15 missed greens), which ranks fifth in the field in terms of scrambling.
· Entering the week, Karlsson ranked 140th on TOUR for strokes gained-putting, losing nearly a quarter of a stroke per round to the field. This week, he’s gained 1.750 strokes per round on the field.
· Frazar started his week with a 1-over 71 and was tied for 54th through his first 18 holes. However, Frazar has 12 birdies and just one bogey over his last 36 holes.
· For the week, Frazar ranks T14 in total driving, eighth
in ball striking, T5 for greens in regulation, T7 for
proximity to the hole, fourth in scrambling and ninth for strokes gained-putting.
· In the opening round Frazar lost nearly three strokes to the field with his putter. He’s turned things around since, gaining over seven strokes on the field with his putter over his last 36 holes.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Robert Karlsson didn’t bother looking at the leaderboard Saturday. Not because his lead was slipping away, but because to him it didn’t matter.
“I'm very, very happy with where I am at the moment,” Karlsson said after a 2-under 68 Saturday that has him one shot in the clear. “You're going to make a mistake here and there.”
The mistakes Karlsson was speaking of just happened to come on the 17th and 18th holes as he bogeyed each.
Leading at one point by five during the third round before Karlsson’s lead started to shrink, the Swede wasn’t about to change his plan of attack however.
“I'm not going to start to play safe the last few holes of the third round,” he said. “It's just not the way it works. Try to hit your best shot every -- when you can and every given time, and then you go from there.”
Where Karlsson hopes to go on Sunday is into the winner’s circle for the first time on the PGA TOUR.
Despite 11 international victories, Karlsson has never won on U.S. soil. Even though he’s in the lead with one round to play, he’s trying to not look ahead.
”Just keep doing what I'm doing,” Karlsson said. “I mean, it's 72-hole golf tournament. It's a long, long way to go still, and I'm -- as I said, I'm very happy with where I'm standing.”
So much for that. What once looked like a runaway for Robert Karlsson is now just a one-shot lead for the Swede as he chases his first career victory on the PGA TOUR.
That’s what bogeys on Karlsson’s final two holes resulted in as he finished with a 2-under 68. Prior to the 17th and 18th holes Saturday, Karlsson had made just two bogeys all week.
It didn’t help that managed just a par on the par-5 16th, the easiest hole on the golf course this week.
“I hit poor shot on 17 and on 18 pushed my driver,” Karlsson said afterward. “I’m still very happy. I played well here last year so I’m looking forward to [Sunday].”