June 6 2012
Karlsson on being runner-up
Robert Karlsson discusses his second-place finishes the previous two years in Memphis.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Robert Karlsson sees it like this -- no player has beaten him in 144 holes of regulation play the last two years at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Unfortunately for the Swede ...
"It's those extra holes," he said Wednesday.
Specifically, seven extra holes.
Last year, Karlsson lost a playoff to Harrison Frazar by making a bogey on the third playoff hole. The year before, he lost to Lee Westwood, who birdied the fourth playoff hole.
Those seven extra holes are the reasons why Karlsson is coming to TPC Southwind this week as the two-time runner-up instead of the two-time defending champ. It's also the reason why he's on the list of favorites.
Is Karlsson haunted by coming up short in the playoffs the last two years? Does it keep him up at night? Hardly.
"Sometimes it's a cruel game," he said, "but, I mean, I went home from here second with many dollars in the bank account and I was a happy man."
Karlsson led by one stroke after 54 holes last year but had to make a clutch 8-foot putt to save par on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. He was happy with his birdie putt on the second playoff hole but it didn’t fall. His bogey on the third playoff hole was just his seventh of the week.
"I was very, very happy with the way I played," Karlsson said. "If I play like that, I cannot be angry."
In 2010, Robert Garrigus had a three-shot lead going into the final hole but triple-bogeyed the last hole, allowing Karlsson and Westwood to tie him. Garrigus bowed out of the playoff on the first extra hole. Karlsson and Westwood then went toe-to-toe, matching a par and a bogey until Westwood won the fourth playoff hole after sticking his approach to six feet.
Karlsson felt fortunate just being in a playoff, given that Garrigus had the tournament in his hands going into the 72nd hole.
"I was second in that event the whole week," Karlsson said. "I mean, the whole last day. It was his to win.
"And that didn't happen, so all of a sudden it felt a bit funny to be in the playoff."
Karlsson enters this week as the first player on the PGA TOUR to finish runner-up in consecutive years at the same event since Tim Clark at the 2008-09 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
He also enters this week having shot in the 60s in all eight of his career rounds at TPC Southwind.
That's why no one would be surprised if he breaks out of his 2012 doldrums this week. In 11 stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR and European Tour, he's suffered four missed cuts and has yet to post a top-10 finish. In a Ryder Cup year, he currently ranks 44th on the European list.
But he said his game is starting to come around. Plus, he obviously likes this course.
As he's learned the last two years, though, there are no guarantees.
"As a golf player, you can only do your best," Karlsson said, "and some weeks, your best is 45th and some weeks it's first. And you're playing the course.
"I try to play the course as best I can, and if I walk off the 72nd -- or 75th hole in this case or 76th -- feeling you've done your best and you've played well, I'm not disappointed."
Still, he wouldn't mind finishing first this year ... not matter how many holes it takes.