‘Frosty’ overcomes bad break to win on Coast
SAUCIER — David Frost, the wine-making golfer from South Africa, might have uncorked a fine bottle of champagne Sunday night. After all, he shot a final round 68 to win the Mississippi Gulf Resorts Classic for his first Champions Tour victory in nearly two years.
Frost, 55, came from three shots behind to win his seventh victory on the tour for golfers 50-and-over.
The victory was worth $240,000 for a man who has won tournaments all over the world and millions upon millions of dollars, Euros and Rands.
Despite that, the biggest winner this past weekend might have been Fallen Oak Golf Club, the Gulf Coast and the charities in the area.
Golfer after famous golfer proclaimed the Tom Fazio-designed course one of the world’s best kept secrets and greatest layouts. As Frost, Frosty to his friends, put it: “This golf course is so challenging. It requires a lot of shot-making, a lot of patience. You have to pick your spots.”
The Gulf Coast?
This tournament’s direct economic impact on the Gulf Coast area has been estimated at $15.3 million annually, and that’s not including the worldwide exposure provided by three days of international TV coverage on Golf Network. Three days of sun-splashed, Chamber of Commerce weather didn’t hurt this year, either.
In its sixth year of existence, the tournament will surpass the $1 million mark in giving, including over $500,000 to its its No. 1 beneficiary, Habitat for Humanity.
For pure drama and suspense, the sixth MGRC presented by C Spire outdid itself. Frost’s victory wasn’t assured until Tom Lehman missed a four-foot birdie putt on the picturesque par-4 finishing hole.
But it shouldn’t have been that close. Frost was the victim of one of the most unlucky breaks imaginable when he was penalized a shot on the par-3 17th hole. After hitting the green with his tee shot, Frost marked his ball with a coin. Then, he accidentally dropped his ball on the coin, moving it ever so slightly. That’s a one-shot penalty — Rules of Golf no. 20-dash-1 if you are keeping score. What should have been an easy par became what could have been a costly bogey.
“I didn’t know it was a penalty; I didn’t think it was,” Frost would later say. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ but you play by the rules. I am just glad, in the end, it did not make a difference.”
To his credit, Frost gathered himself and made a difficult par on the 18th to retain his one-shot lead. Then he went directly to the practice range to prepare for a playoff that never happened.
And you’ll never guess whom he credited for encouraging him to come from three shots back at nine-hole turn Sunday. Does the name John Fourcade ring a bell?
“At the turn, my friend John Fourcade told me I was going to have to make a few birdies to have a chance,” said Frost, who responded with birdies at holes 11, 12, 13 and 15 to take a two-shot lead.
You might wonder where the South African Frost got to know Fourcade, the former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback. Well, 25 years ago this spring, Frost holed out a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to beat Greg Norman by one shot in the New Orleans PGA tournament, then the USF&G Classic. Frost said he and Fourcade celebrated by partying all night in the French Quarter.
What will it be Sunday night — Frost was asked— champagne or red wine?
He smiled, paused, then answered: “Both!”