The first time Harrison Frazar and Justin Leonard played golf
together was in 1984 at a junior tournament in Abilene, Texas,
when Frazar was 13 and Leonard was 12. "It was freezing cold, and
Harrison and I were wearing so many layers you couldn't tell if
it was him or me coming down the fairway," says Leonard. "It was
miserable that day, but it's cool for us to have a memory like
"It's cool for you," says Frazar. "You shot like 75 to win the
tournament. I shot about a 95 and finished dead last. Now that's
Fifteen years later, Frazar and Leonard are still teeing it up
together, but it has become easier to tell them apart. They have
a regular game every Tuesday at 9 a.m. during tournament weeks,
and this spring morning they're at Harbour Town Golf Links, on
Hilton Head Island, S.C., preparing, in their own distinctive
ways, for the MCI Classic. Leonard, having nearly beaten the sun
to the course so he could work on his putting, arrives at the
1st tee at precisely nine looking as if he just stepped out of
one of his Polo ads. Without so much as a practice swing, he
carves a drive down the right center of the fairway. Perfect.
Here comes Frazar, harrumphing his way to the tee,
simultaneously tucking in a rumpled shirt, digging through his
bag for a tee and asking bystanders what club to hit, for he has
never laid eyes on the course. Frazar blew into town not nine
hours earlier, and his first swing seems to come from a
different time zone--a shocking slice deep into the forest. He
bombs his mulligan 30 yards past Leonard's ball, not surprising
for a guy who finished third on the PGA Tour in driving distance
last year as a rookie. While Frazar is still dillydallying on
the tee, Leonard has marched up the fairway and, yardage book in
hand, is stepping off every daisy and anthill. "Tell you what,"
Frazar says, casting a sleepy glance at his buddy, "if he keeps
making me get out here by 9 a.m., I'm done."
They've always been an odd couple, these two, ever since golf
intertwined their lives all those years ago. Early in the summer
of 1986 Frazar's family moved from Abilene to Dallas and joined
Royal Oaks Country Club, where Leonard had been honing his game
since he was a six-year-old prodigy. Having bonded on the harsh
landscape of the Texas junior scene, Frazar and Leonard quickly
became inseparable around the club, an unlikely Mutt and Jeff.
Frazar was the endearing goof-off with a freewheeling swing,
whose idea of hard work was "half a bucket of balls, two
cheeseburgers and a nap," according to Royal Oak's longtime head
pro, Randy Smith. Leonard, meanwhile, was the pint-sized range
rat, already raising the members' eyebrows with his focus and
May 23, 1999
Their friendship always had a competitive undercurrent, and it
became a full-blown rivalry when they went to different high
schools. At Highland Park, Frazar led his team to a pair of state
championships and was a three-time all-Texas selection. Down the
road at Lake Highlands, Leonard took his squad to one team title
while twice earning medalist honors.
Through golf, Frazar and Leonard's friendship endured, and
though neither would come out and say it, both later
acknowledged that they had dreamed of being teammates in
college. A cagey coach at Texas had them make their recruiting
trips together, and when both were hooked by the Horns, they
held a joint letter-of-intent signing party at the Leonard
house. Despite disparate levels of hygiene, they insisted on
being roommates in a tiny dorm room as freshmen, Frazar playing
the Oscar Madison to Leonard's fastidious Felix Unger. "There
was no trouble telling which side of the room was Harrison's,"
says Allison Frazar, Harrison's high school sweetheart and,
since 1995, his wife. "They were so different." This went far
beyond the occasional wayward sock.
"Justin was so motivated it was scary," says Frazar. "He knew
what he wanted when he came to Austin--to play four years, be an
All-America and then go to the Tour. I didn't know if I was good
enough to play at that level, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to
sacrifice my whole life to get there. I wanted to have fun, be a
normal guy, be a student."
Frazar felt out of his league as a freshman, in part because
Leonard seemed so comfortable. For such a diminutive kid,
Leonard had always cast a long shadow. Frazar grew up measuring
himself against his friend, and despite some impressive
accomplishments of his own, always came up short. "I guess I
knew Justin was special, but I didn't realize how special,"
Frazar says. "I saw the success he had, and since I didn't have
the same kind of results, it affected my confidence." This
affected his play, and at the urging of the Texas coaches,
Frazar redshirted as a freshman. Leonard, meanwhile, was off and
running, and during his superlative collegiate career he would
become the only golfer in history to win four consecutive
Southwest Conference championships. He also won an NCAA title
and the U.S. Amateur. From the day Leonard rode into town, he
was the leader of the team, and his work ethic and controlled,
calculating brand of play became the style of Longhorns golf.
This was not Frazar's way.
"They're North Pole, South Pole," says Smith, who remains the
only swing instructor either Frazar or Leonard has had. "Justin
is an absolute technician. Since he was six he has built his game
around going from point A to B to C. Harrison's first thought is
to go from A to C and forget about B. Bash it, find it, chip it,
putt it, start all over."
This kind of golf didn't thrill Jimmy Clayton, the Texas coach,
and Frazar was put on a short leash. "There was tremendous
pressure not to let my teammates down, but the real pressure was
trying to do things someone else's way," Frazar says. "I was told
that to be successful, you had to grind and sacrifice and beat
balls and lay up and play to the middle of the green."
In other words, he was told he had to be like Leonard. "Yeah,
kind of," Frazar says softly.
Frazar's hurried arrival into Hilton Head was due in part to the
hangover that followed some thrilling news that he and Allison
had received just a few days before the tournament. So, idling
on one of Harbour Town's tee boxes, Frazar drapes an arm across
Leonard's shoulder, leans in and asks, "Did you hear about
"No, what?" Leonard asks.
"Harrison, that's great, just terrific," Leonard says. "I'm
really happy for you guys. I've only got one question. Is it
"The first time I met Allison, I was in 10th grade and she was
in ninth," says Frazar. "She was coming down this staircase in
her cheerleading outfit, and I thought, Wow, who's that? A
friend of mine who was with me knew her, and he introduced us.
She said she was cheering a basketball game that night, so I
decided to check it out."
"So it's halftime, and we're doing one of our little routines,"
says Allison, talking a mile a minute in her Texas twang, "and
I'm lying there on this grungy floor waiting for the music to
start, and all I can think is, He's up there somewhere watching
me. When I finally saw him, Harry was wearing this leather
jacket and a T-shirt with a giant moose on it...."
"It was the logo for Moosehead beer...."
"Whatever, it had this giant moose on it. And...."
They had their first date shortly thereafter, Mexican food and
the Sidney Poitier film Shoot to Kill. "We've been together
nonstop ever since," says Harrison. "We've had maybe five fights
the whole time."
During his redshirt year, while Leonard was off traveling with
the team, Frazar frequently made the three-hour drive home to
Dallas to spend the weekend with Allison. The next year she
joined him at Texas. By then Frazar was all too happy to
withdraw into his studies and, especially, his relationship with
Allison. Being the square peg on the Texas team had left him
with a worsening case of burnout. "At some point it became clear
that Harrison was losing the intention to play professionally,"
says Clayton, who retired in 1997. "He wanted to make good
grades, which he did. He wanted to marry Allison, which he did.
Then he wanted to be the best college player he could be. I have
to tell you, I was very impressed with his priorities, and I was
proud that he achieved his goals."
It is a measure of Frazar's tremendous natural talent and
overpowering long game that even as he was souring on golf he
was still a formidable player. He was an honorable mention
All-America in his sophomore, junior and senior years, although
he didn't win a tournament. It took his greatest moment in golf,
at the end of his junior season, to persuade Frazar that he
wanted to quit the game. The 1994 NCAA championships, in which
Leonard would win his individual title, were played at
Stonebridge Country Club, near Dallas. In front of throngs of
friends and family, Frazar shot a 65 on the final day and nearly
won the national championship for the Longhorns, who came in
second, four strokes back of Stanford. "Considering the
circumstances," says Clayton, "that remains one of the three or
four best rounds in the history of Texas golf."
"It meant nothing to me," Frazar says. "It should have been the
happiest day of my life, but I was numb the whole time. I knew
then I was done." In the wake of the NCAAs, Frazar announced he
was taking the summer off from golf.
"When I heard that, I gave him so much grief," says Leonard.
"Guy shoots 65, makes All-America, nearly wins the national
championship for us, then announces he needs a break? I'm like,
What's the deal?"
Frazar played well as a senior, but by then he had made up his
mind: He was not going to turn pro. Needing to take only six
units to graduate, Frazar took 28, adding a business minor to
his psychology major. (Allison earned her degree in elementary
education.) Four months after graduation Harrison and Allison
finally got hitched, and he took a job as a commercial real
estate analyst for a Dallas outfit called Lincoln Property,
hoping to get into the development of golf course communities.
"I got a wedding ring, a dog, a mortgage and a couple of ties,"
he says. "I was done for good." Frazar's starting salary: $22,000.
In the middle of Harbour Town's 11th fairway, Leonard stops
walking and begins to stretch in a peculiar manner. "I worked
out for three hours yesterday," he says.
"Why?" Frazar asks, with dismay.
"Because it was there," Leonard says.
Perhaps inspired by this exchange, Frazar reaches into his bag
and stuffs his face with a marshmallowy Rice Crispy bar. "Life
is too short to deny yourself what you love," Frazar says, "and
I love to eat." Still, he's down to 176 pounds, from the
corpulent 205 he weighed a few years ago. His secret? "Instead
of eating fried chicken every night like I used to," he says, "I
only have it a couple of times a week now. It's my version of a
Mark Brooks, the PGA Tour veteran, is an unlikely guardian angel,
but he kept whispering in Frazar's ear, goading him back toward
the game. A few months after Frazar had taken the job at Lincoln
Property, the company aligned itself with Mark Brooks Golf, and
Brooksy, himself a three-time All-America at Texas, became
Frazar's de facto boss. (What does he remember of Frazar as an
employee? "His desk was a mess," says Brooks.)
Since entering the business world, Frazar had hardly touched his
clubs, but he was astute enough not to turn down the chance to
play with Brooks. "The guy had way too much game not to be out
on Tour, and I made a point of telling him that," says Brooks.
"If I did anything, it was bolster his confidence, because the
times we played, he pretty much drummed me." Frazar recalls his
rounds with Brooks as the first fun he had had on a golf course
in ages. At the same time he was also being hectored by many of
his former teammates, including Leonard, who, to no one's
surprise, was making his mark on the Tour, in 1995 finishing
22nd on the money list as a rookie and then, while Frazar was
contemplating his decision in the summer of '96, winning his
first tournament, the Buick Open.
A year in the workaday world convinced Frazar that he ought to
give golf another shot. He gave himself a three-year timetable.
"And I was going to do it my way this time," Frazar says. "If I
didn't feel like practicing six hours a day, I wasn't going to.
If I wanted to hit driver, I was going to hit driver. I was going
to be me."
At Q school that fall he earned his Nike tour card, and the '97
season served as a successful apprenticeship. He won the South
Carolina Classic, shooting back-to-back 67s in the first 36-hole
Sunday in the tour's history, and earned $104,023 to finish 13th
on the money list, good enough for a promotion to the bigs in
'98. Back in Dallas, Allison's fifth-graders threw him a
A third of the way into last season Frazar was just another
down-on-his-luck rookie, and then came two magical weeks in May,
when the Tour swung through Texas. At the Byron Nelson Classic,
back home in Dallas, he opened with a 64 and was the talk of the
town. Frazar played in the final group on Sunday with Fred
Couples and shot a commendable 70 to tie for second and earn
$186,666.67, securing his card for '99. The next day Allison gave
notice at her school.
The next week brought the Colonial, in Fort Worth, and again
Frazar opened with a 64 and played well, tying for the lead
after 54 holes. Exhausted, Frazar ground out another solid final
round, a 71 that left him in fourth, worth $110,400. When he
stepped out of the scoring tent behind the 18th green, Leonard
was waiting. "Justin and I have always been proud of each
other," says Frazar, "and we have always genuinely wanted the
other to succeed, but it was something that was unsaid. I can
only think of two instances when we really let out our feelings.
The first was after he won the ['97] British Open, at the
celebration at Royal Oaks. I hugged him and told him that I
loved him and, not to sound too corny, he told me that he loved
me, too. That was a pretty special moment. The other time was
there at the tent at the Colonial. He shook my hand and said,
'Harry, I never once doubted that you had this in you.'"
The practice round is over. No bets were made and no scores were
kept, which is a good thing for Leonard because he would have
been drilled. "It's always been like that," says Frazar. "Coach
Clayton used to shake his head and say, 'How come you always
beat Justin in practice and he always beats you in the
tournaments?' It's because in practice Justin plays my game,
loose and freewheeling. Come tournament time when every stroke
counts, that's Justin's game. I'm just starting to learn how to
The Texas swing is upon us, and Frazar is heating up again. Just
in time, too. Last year, when he finished 63rd on the money list
and was nominated for rookie of the year, he made 16 of 26 cuts.
In '99 he has missed eight of his first 14. The only bright
spots came in January, when Frazar tied for sixth in the Phoenix
Open, and two weeks ago in New Orleans, where he led with eight
holes to play before settling for a tie for second. He was 51st
at last week's Byron Nelson.
On the subject of how good his friend can be, Leonard says,
"He's going to win tournaments and he's going to be out here for
a long time."
Veteran Mike Hulbert, a frequent Tuesday-morning foil of Leonard
and Frazar's, is more expansive. "The sky's the limit," says
Hulbert. "Harry's got a beautiful touch around the greens and a
very solid swing. He's learning how to ratchet it down, how to
control his wedge game, how to squeeze a 68 out of a 74. He's
been very astute about playing his practice rounds with Justin
and learning all that he can. I can see that Justin--even though
he would never say so--has taken Harry under his wing. That's a
good wing to have."
Leonard is so accomplished that, at 26, he has already been
bronzed. Royal Oaks has built a shrine to a select group of
golfers--Leonard, Don January, Lee Trevino and D.A.
Weibring--who have contributed to the club's lore, complete with
oversized busts and acclamatory biographies. If you look
closely, there is some extra room on either side of the
monument. According to Smith, this was left in part with Frazar
in mind, should he ever fulfill his considerable potential. His
spot would be next to Leonard's.
"Justin was so motivated it was scary," says Frazar. "He knew
what he wanted when he came to Austin."
"Harrison's first thought is to go from A to C and forget B,"
says Smith. "Bash it, find it, chip it, putt it, start all over."
Says Hulbert, "I can see that Justin--even though he would never
say so--has taken Harry under his wing."