Paul William Azinger (born January 6, 1960) is an American professional golfer and TV golf analyst.[3] He won 12 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.[4]

Paul Azinger
Personal information
Full namePaul William Azinger
Born (1960-01-06) January 6, 1960 (age 64)
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight175 lb (79 kg; 12 st 7 lb)
Sporting nationality United States
ResidenceBradenton, Florida
CollegeBrevard Community College
Florida State University
Turned professional1981
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Champions Tour
Professional wins16
Highest ranking4 (August 22, 1993)[1][2]
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour12
European Tour2
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters Tournament5th: 1998
PGA ChampionshipWon: 1993
U.S. OpenT3: 1993
The Open ChampionshipT2: 1987
Achievements and awards
PGA Player of the Year1987
PGA Tour
Comeback Player of the Year

Early life edit

Azinger was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts;[5] his father Ralph (1930–2013) was a navigator in the U.S. Air Force and later a businessman.[6] He started in golf at age five.[7] After Ralph retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1972, he opened a marina, and Paul spent his summer pumping gas and painting boats.[6]

The family moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he attended and graduated from Sarasota High School.

Amateur career edit

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.[6]

Professional career edit

Azinger turned professional in 1981.[5] 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. Azinger had a breakout year in 1987, when he won three times on the PGA Tour and had a second-place finish in the Open Championship.[6]

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 Open Championship at the first attempt[8] and said that he was "heartbroken" to leave Muirfield without the Claret Jug trophy.[9]

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.[10][11]

In December 1993, Azinger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his right shoulder.[12] His treatment included six months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation in California.[13] He wrote a book called Zinger about his battle with the disease[7] 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.[14] 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.[7][15] The book was co-authored with Ron Braund, a corporate team builder and psychologist, who consulted Azinger throughout the Ryder Cup.

Azinger made his Champions Tour debut at The ACE Group Classic in February 2010.[16] He played four events that year and none since.

Broadcasting career edit

Azinger first worked in television in 1995 while recovering from chemotherapy. Azinger was recruited by lead NBC analyst Johnny Miller to join the broadcast team as an on-course reporter, a stint which included reporting on the singles match at the 1995 Ryder Cup between Tom Lehman and Azinger's former Ryder Cup rival Seve Ballesteros, who was playing in his final Ryder Cup.

After returning to the PGA Tour for several more successful playing years, Azinger returned to broadcasting on a full-time basis.

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 Open Championship 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 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.[17]

In October 2018, NBC Sports and Golf Channel named Azinger their lead golf analyst, succeeding the retiring Johnny Miller – who had originally helped give Azinger his start in broadcasting during his recovery from cancer in 1995. After Miller ended his NBC career at the 2019 Phoenix Open, Azinger became NBC’s lead analyst during the Southern Swing in March 2019. He remained with Fox for the U.S. Open, U.S Women's Open, and U.S. Amateur for the 2019 season alongside his NBC duties, until those championships returned to NBC, where Azinger had also ended up at, in 2020. [18]

Personal life edit

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,[13] 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.[7] His two managers and close friends, Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, also died in the crash.

Politically conservative,[19] 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.[20] He was however persuaded to attend and said that the visit "was just wonderful".[21][22]

Azinger is an avid poker player and competed in the main event at both the 2006 World Series of Poker[23] and the 2008 World Series of Poker.[13][24] He is an avid foosball player, and often seeks places to play foosball while traveling.[25]

Azinger threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays' second ever playoff game on October 3, 2008.[26] He recently launched a new application for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch called Golfplan.[13][27]

Professional wins (16) edit

PGA Tour wins (12) edit

Major championships (1)
Tour Championships (1)
Other PGA Tour (10)
No. Date Tournament Winning score To par Margin of
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 (2) 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

*Note: The 1987 Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational was shortened to 72 holes due to weather.

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 (3) edit

Major championships (1)
Other European Tour (2)
No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
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
3 Aug 15, 1993 PGA Championship −12 (69-66-69-68=272) Playoff   Greg Norman

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

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 Aug 23, 1988 Fred Meyer Challenge
(with   Bob Tway)
−19 (62-63=125) 1 stroke   Andy Bean and   Raymond Floyd
2 Aug 20, 1991 Fred Meyer Challenge (2)
(with   Ben Crenshaw)
−19 (63-62=125) Playoff   Mark Calcavecchia and   Bob Gilder,
  Fred Couples and   Raymond Floyd

Other playoff record (1–3)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1985 Magnolia Classic   Jim Gallagher Jr. Lost to birdie on first extra hole
2 1991 Fred Meyer Challenge
(with   Ben Crenshaw)
  Mark Calcavecchia and   Bob Gilder,
  Fred Couples and   Raymond Floyd
Won with birdie on second extra hole
Calcavecchia/Gilder eliminated by par on first hole
3 1995 Fred Meyer Challenge
(with   Payne Stewart)
  Brad Faxon and   Greg Norman Lost to birdie on first extra hole
4 1999 JCPenney Classic
(with   Pak Se-ri)
  John Daly and   Laura Davies Lost to birdie on third extra hole

Major championships edit

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 timeline edit

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
  Top 10
  Did not play

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

Summary edit

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)

Results in The Players Championship edit

Tournament 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
The Players Championship CUT T64 6 T30 T14 CUT T3 T29 T6 CUT CUT T14 CUT CUT T17 T7 CUT CUT T64
  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the halfway cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place

Results in World Golf Championships edit

Tournament 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Match Play R32 R64 4
Championship NT1 T43
Invitational T8 T5 T38 T39

1Cancelled due to 9/11

  Top 10
  Did not play

QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" = Tied
NT = No tournament

U.S. national team appearances edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Week 34 1993 Ending 22 Aug 1993" (pdf). OWGR. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "Paul Azinger – Ranking Graph". OWGR. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  3. ^ Diaz, Jaime (June 7, 2016). "The Zen of Zinger". Golf Digest. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "69 Players Who Have Reached The Top-10 In World Ranking". Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "PGA Tour Profile – Paul Azinger". PGA Tour. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c d "BPGA Tour Media Guide – Paul Azinger". PGA Tour. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  8. ^ Siddons, Larry (July 20, 1987). "Azinger Loses Big Lead And British Open Title". Times-Union. Warsaw, Indiana. p. 10. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  9. ^ Green, Bob (July 16, 1992). "Muirfield bring back memories". Hudson Valley News. Newburgh, New York. Associated Press. p. B2. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  10. ^ "Ballesteros accuses Azinger of lying". Washington Post. October 25, 1991. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  11. ^ Huggan, John; Yocom, Guy (July 31, 2012). "The Rowdy Ryder Cup at Kiawah". Golf Digest. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  12. ^ Dorman, Larry (December 9, 1993). "Lymphoma Found in Azinger's Shoulder". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  13. ^ a b c d "Bio from Azinger's official site". Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  14. ^ "Azinger made US Ryder Cup captain". BBC Sport. November 6, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  15. ^ "Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy". Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  16. ^ Kupelian, Vartan (February 3, 2010). "Insider: Tour in 'good shape' with new faces, places". PGA Tour. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  17. ^ "Paul Azinger replaces Greg Norman as lead golf announcer for Fox Sports". Chicago Tribune. January 27, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  18. ^ "Azinger named NBC Sports' new lead golf analyst". PGA Tour. October 22, 2018. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  19. ^ Ball, Off The (November 8, 2016). "How will America's sports stars vote in the Presidential Election?". Off The Ball. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  20. ^ "Affinity more touchy than feely". The Irish Times. September 16, 2008.
  21. ^ Cummings, William (May 8, 2019). "Trump not the first president whose politics made athletes reconsider White House visit". USA Today. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  22. ^ Shapiro, Leonard (September 21, 1993). "Ryder Team Gets Thornless Sendoff From Rose Garden". The Washington Post.
  23. ^ "What the ...? Hellmuth knocked out of WSOP". MSNBC. Associated Press. July 30, 2006. Archived from the original on June 25, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  24. ^ "A Different Sort of Green".
  25. ^ Sobel, Jason (May 25, 2010). "Azinger pushed hard for job in '10". ESPN. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  26. ^ Azinger to throw out first pitch at Rays game Friday Archived October 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Golfplan with Paul Azinger". Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.

External links edit