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Paul William Azinger (born January 6, 1960) is an American professional golfer and TV golf analyst.[1] He won twelve times on the PGA Tour, including one major championship, the 1993 PGA Championship. He spent almost 300 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking between 1988 and 1994.[2]

Paul Azinger
Personal information
Full namePaul William Azinger
NicknameZinger
Born (1960-01-06) January 6, 1960 (age 59)
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight175 lb (79 kg; 12.5 st)
Nationality United States
ResidenceBradenton, Florida
Career
CollegeBrevard Community College
Florida State University
Turned professional1981
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Champions Tour
Professional wins16
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour12
European Tour2
Other2
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters Tournament5th: 1998
U.S. OpenT3: 1993
The Open ChampionshipT2: 1987
PGA ChampionshipWon: 1993
Achievements and awards
PGA Player of the Year1987
PGA Tour Comeback
Player of the Year
2000

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Azinger was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts;[3] his father Ralph (1930–2013) was a navigator in the U.S. Air Force and later a businessman.[4] He started in golf at age five.[5] After Ralph retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1972, he opened a marina, and Paul spent his summer pumping gas and painting boats.[4]

The family moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he attended and graduated from Sarasota High School. Azinger attended Brevard Community College in the late 1970s. While there, he found more time to practice his swing, playing on the team as a walk-on, and landed a summer job at the Bay Hill Golf Academy in Orlando, which allowed him more practice time. Practice earned him more opportunity, in the form of a scholarship to Florida State University in Tallahassee,[4] and he turned professional in 1981.[3]

During his early years, Azinger collected meager earnings. He and his wife, Toni, bought a used motor home, a 1983 Vogue, and drove from tournament to tournament. He got his big break in 1987, when he first played in the British Open and tied for second.[4]

Professional careerEdit

PGA TourEdit

Azinger won eleven tournaments on the PGA Tour in seven seasons from 1987 to 1993, climaxing in his one major title, the 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness, which he won in a sudden-death playoff against Greg Norman.

Azinger finished one shot behind Nick Faldo at the 1987 Open Championship at Muirfield after making bogey at both the 71st and 72nd holes. Azinger was bidding to become only the fourth golfer since 1945 to win the British Open at the first attempt[6] and said that he was "heartbroken" to leave Muirfield without the Claret Jug trophy.[7]

At the 1991 Ryder Cup, Azinger was involved in a controversial episode with Seve Ballesteros, with whom he had a fierce rivalry. Azinger and American teammate Chip Beck were using balls of different compressions off the tee on multiple holes, in violation of an agreement between the Cup captains. Azinger initially denied that the Americans had engaged in this practice, but admitted to it once he realized that there would be no penalty assessed.[8][9]

In December 1993, Azinger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his right shoulder.[10] His treatment included six months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation in California.[11] He wrote a book called Zinger about his battle with the disease[5] and was the recipient of GWAA Ben Hogan Award in 1995, given to the individual who has continued to be active in golf despite physical handicap or serious illness. In 2000, he won his first tournament in seven seasons at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Azinger was the U.S. Ryder Cup captain for the 2008 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.[12] He led the team to its first victory over the European squad since 1999. The team's victory was largely credited to his innovative strategy. This strategy is outlined in his book, Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy: Make it Work for You, which was released in May 2010.[5][13] The book was co-authored with Ron Braund, a corporate team builder and psychologist, who consulted Azinger throughout the Ryder Cup.

Champions TourEdit

Azinger made his Champions Tour debut at The ACE Group Classic in February 2010.[14] He played four events that year and none since.

Television workEdit

From 2005 to 2015, Azinger worked as lead analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports' golf coverage. He initially shared analyst duties with his former Ryder Cup and British Open rival Nick Faldo. Azinger and Faldo, along with host Mike Tirico, formed a broadcast team that was met with positive critical acclaim. Faldo left for rival CBS after the 2006 season. Since then, Azinger has worked alone with Tirico. However, when Faldo and Azinger were opposing captains at the 2008 Ryder Cup, Azinger's colleague Andy North filled in for him. Faldo and Azinger have also reunited as analysts on two occasions. The first reunion was at the 2007 Open Championship (for ABC) and the second was at the 2009 Presidents Cup (for the Golf Channel).

After ESPN/ABC lost its rights to both the U.S. Open and Open Championship to Fox and NBC, Azinger joined Fox Sports as its head golf analyst in 2016, replacing Greg Norman.[15]

In October 2018, NBC Sports and Golf Channel named Azinger their lead golf analyst, succeeding the retiring Johnny Miller. He will remain with Fox for the U.S. Open and U.S Women's Open.[16]

Other interestsEdit

Azinger is an avid poker player and competed in the main event at both the 2006 World Series of Poker[17] and the 2008 World Series of Poker.[11][18] He is an avid foosball player, and often seeks places to play foosball while traveling.[19]

Azinger threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays' second ever playoff game on October 3, 2008.[20] He recently launched a new application for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch called Golfplan.[11][21]

PersonalEdit

Azinger is a Christian. He and his wife Toni met at FSU and have been married since 1982. They have two daughters, Sarah Jean Collins and Josie Azinger Mark[11] and currently live in Bradenton, Florida.

Azinger gave the eulogy at the memorial service for his friend Payne Stewart, who was killed in a plane crash in 1999.[5] His two managers and close friends, Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, also died in the crash.

Politically conservative, Azinger refused an invitation to the White House for the winning 1993 Ryder Cup team due to what he saw as Draft dodging on the part of President Bill Clinton.[22][23]

Azinger's mother Jean (1929–2016) was an accomplished golfer and Paul was the third of her four sons; the elder two were with her first husband, John Gaudino, who died in a military plane crash in the 1950s.[24][25]

Professional wins (16)Edit

PGA Tour wins (12)Edit

Legend
Major championships (1)
Tour Championship (1)
Other PGA Tour (10)
No. Date Tournament Winning score To par Margin
of victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Jan 25, 1987 Phoenix Open 67-69-65-67=268 −16 1 stroke   Hal Sutton
2 May 3, 1987 Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational 68-72-67-64=271 −17 1 stroke   Hal Sutton
3 Jun 28, 1987 Canon Sammy Davis Jr.-Greater Hartford Open 69-65-63-72=269 −15 1 stroke   Dan Forsman,   Wayne Levi
4 Mar 20, 1988 Hertz Bay Hill Classic 66-66-73-66=271 −13 5 strokes   Tom Kite
5 Jul 9, 1989 Canon Greater Hartford Open 65-70-67-65=267 −17 1 stroke   Wayne Levi
6 Jan 7, 1990 MONY Tournament of Champions 66-68-69-69=272 −16 1 stroke   Ian Baker-Finch
7 Feb 3, 1991 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am 67-67-73-67=274 −14 4 strokes   Brian Claar,   Corey Pavin
8 Nov 1, 1992 The Tour Championship 70-66-69-71=276 −8 3 strokes   Lee Janzen,   Corey Pavin
9 Jun 6, 1993 Memorial Tournament 68-69-68-69=274 −14 1 stroke   Corey Pavin
10 Jul 25, 1993 New England Classic 67-69-64-68=268 −16 4 strokes   Jay Delsing,   Bruce Fleisher
11 Aug 15, 1993 PGA Championship 69-66-69-68=272 −12 Playoff   Greg Norman
12 Jan 16, 2000 Sony Open in Hawaii 63-65-68-65=261 −19 7 strokes   Stuart Appleby

PGA Tour playoff record (1–2)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1989 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic   Steve Jones,   Sandy Lyle Jones won with birdie on first extra hole
2 1990 Doral-Ryder Open   Mark Calcavecchia,   Greg Norman,   Tim Simpson Norman won with eagle on first extra hole
3 1993 PGA Championship   Greg Norman Won with par on second extra hole

European Tour wins (2)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Sep 23, 1990 BMW International Open −11 (63-73-73-68=277) Playoff   David Feherty
2 Aug 9, 1992 BMW International Open (2) −22 (66-67-66-67=266) Playoff   Glen Day,   Anders Forsbrand,
  Mark James,   Bernhard Langer

European Tour playoff record (3–0)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1990 BMW International Open   David Feherty Won with birdie on first extra hole
2 1992 BMW International Open   Glen Day,   Anders Forsbrand,
  Mark James,   Bernhard Langer
Won with birdie on first extra hole
3 1993 PGA Championship   Greg Norman Won with par on second extra hole

Other wins (2)Edit

Major championshipsEdit

Wins (1)Edit

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1993 PGA Championship 1 shot deficit −12 (69-66-69-68=272) Playoff   Greg Norman

Results timelineEdit

Tournament 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
Masters Tournament T17 CUT T14
U.S. Open CUT CUT 34 CUT T6 T9
The Open Championship T2 T47 T8
PGA Championship CUT CUT CUT 2 CUT
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Masters Tournament CUT 52 T31 CUT T17 T18 T28 5 CUT
U.S. Open T24 CUT T33 T3 CUT T67 T28 T14 T12
The Open Championship T48 T59 T59 CUT CUT CUT CUT
PGA Championship T31 T33 1 CUT T31 T31 T29 T13 T41
Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Masters Tournament T28 T15 CUT
U.S. Open T12 T5 CUT
The Open Championship T7 WD
PGA Championship T24 T22 CUT CUT T55 CUT CUT T63 CUT
  Win
  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the half way cut
WD = Withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place.

SummaryEdit

Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 1 1 6 15 10
U.S. Open 0 0 1 2 4 8 18 12
The Open Championship 0 1 0 1 3 3 12 7
PGA Championship 1 1 0 2 2 5 23 13
Totals 1 2 1 6 10 22 68 42
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 9 (1999 U.S. Open – 2001 PGA)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 2 (1989 U.S. Open – 1989 Open Championship)

U.S. national team appearancesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Diaz, Jaime (June 7, 2016). "The Zen of Zinger". Golf Digest. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  2. ^ 69 Players Who Have Reached The Top-10 In World Ranking
  3. ^ a b "PGA Tour Profile – Paul Azinger". PGA Tour. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Collins, Louise Mooney; Speace, Geri J. (1995). Newsmakers, The People Behind Today's Headlines. New York: Gale Research Inc. pp. 12–14. ISBN 0-8103-5745-3.
  5. ^ a b c d "BPGA Tour Media Guide – Paul Azinger". PGA Tour. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  6. ^ Siddons, Larry (July 20, 1987). "Azinger Loses Big Lead And British Open Title". Times-Union. Warsaw, Indiana. p. 10. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  7. ^ Green, Bob (July 16, 1992). "Muirfield bring back memories". Hudson Valley News. Newburgh, New York. Associated Press. p. B2. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  8. ^ "Ballesteros accuses Azinger of lying". Washington Post. October 25, 1991. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  9. ^ Huggan, John; Yocom, Guy (July 31, 2012). "The Rowdy Ryder Cup at Kiawah". Golf Digest. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  10. ^ Dorman, Larry (December 9, 1993). "Lymphoma Found in Azinger's Shoulder". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d "Bio from Azinger's official site". Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  12. ^ "Azinger made US Ryder Cup captain". BBC Sport. November 6, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  13. ^ "Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy". Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  14. ^ Kupelian, Vartan (February 3, 2010). "Insider: Tour in 'good shape' with new faces, places". PGA Tour. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  15. ^ "Paul Azinger replaces Greg Norman as lead golf announcer for Fox Sports". Chicago Tribune. January 27, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  16. ^ "Azinger named NBC Sports' new lead golf analyst". PGA Tour. October 22, 2018. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  17. ^ "What the ...? Hellmuth knocked out of WSOP". MSNBC. Associated Press. July 30, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  18. ^ "A Different Sort of Green".
  19. ^ Sobel, Jason (May 25, 2010). "Azinger pushed hard for job in '10". ESPN. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  20. ^ Azinger to throw out first pitch at Rays game Friday Archived October 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Golfplan with Paul Azinger". Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  22. ^ https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/affinity-more-touchy-than-feely-1.938843
  23. ^ http://2bleacherreport.com/articles/269041
  24. ^ "Jean Azinger". Sarasota Herald Tribune. (Florida). (obituary). March 11, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  25. ^ Feinstein, John (1995). "A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour". Little, Brown and Company Inc. p. 69.

External linksEdit