Azinger: “The PGA Tour has fast become the qualifier for LIV”

Mark McGowan

Paul Azinger during his NBC tenure (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Paul Azinger, the 1993 PGA Championship winner, 2008 Ryder Cup winning captain, and former NBC lead golf analyst has broken his silence about the dispute that lead to his contract not being renewed with the US broadcaster, and in classic ‘Zinger’ fashion, he doesn’t hold back, going into detail about how contract negotiations broke down and why he’s now pleased to be watching the PGA Tour from the sidelines.

Speaking to GolfWeek’s Adam Schupak, Azinger detailed that negotiations were well advanced with NBC before the network unceremoniously opted to pull the plug.

”They offered me the job,” Azinger said. “We had the weeks, the amount of days. Essentially, I was going to be on the road for two more weeks, and I wasn’t gonna make the same amount of money. So we’re making a counteroffer.”

Azinger was seeking a one-year renewal which would put him on the same contract timeline as lead announcer Dan Hicks and he had hopes of signing a new four-year contract the following year.

“Dan and I already had talked about it. I was ready to keep going. I thought I was gonna go for about five more years to be honest,” Azinger said. “I thought I would do at least one more year and then sign a four-year deal. They made the offer, my agent said ‘no, we’ll counteroffer the next day’. And they said, ‘Sorry, we’re moving on.’

“You know, it wasn’t a conversation with me, like, ‘What do you need Zinger? What do we need to do? Here’s our situation. You know, this is why we need you to accept this deal.’ There was no reason, it just was it’s complicated, it’s complicated. I was like, ‘How complicated can it be, bud?’ It’s money.“

As things went sour with NBC and the network has chosen to fill Azinger’s shoes with a revolving cast that’s included Paul McGinley, Kevin Kisner, Luke Donald and Brandel Chamblee, Azinger is now recognising it as a blessing in disguise as he’s spent his time fishing and dipping his toes into the Golf Course design business with Miakka Golf Club in Myakka City, Florida.

“I’m not missing golf in any capacity at all as a broadcaster,” Azinger said. “It’s hard work to be an analyst. It’s always stress and pressure. So I don’t really miss it that much. I just don’t like the way it ended.”

And besides the pressure, Azinger, like many others in the sport, doesn’t like the way the game is going as money has become the overriding motivator for many of the game’s top stars and the sport is fractured to a degree not seen since transatlantic travel became commonplace.

“The best players aren’t all playing PGA Tour tournaments,” he said. “That’s over. Suddenly, the LIV Tour, let’s just say it like this: the PGA Tour has fast become the qualifier for LIV and it’s a sad day for golf. Yeah, I’ve watched a little bit and I’m not I’m not missing it that much. I’m not missing it at all.”

“I don’t want to get in too much hot water and make big headlines or anything but the best players aren’t on the PGA Tour,” he added. “They’re scattered all over the place and that’s a sad day that’s similar to what happened in tennis. The best players are going to be at the four majors, just like tennis, and it’s unfolding right before our eyes.

“I’d rather call the Senior Tour than the PGA Tour to tell you the truth. I’m over the PGA Tour. To call the best senior players in the world, at least they’re the best.”

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