Paul Azinger hired by FOX Sports as lead golf analyst

Associated Press

 

Paul Azinger has been selected as the lead golf analyst for Fox Sports as it enters the second year of televising the U.S. Open and other USGA championships.

Two people informed of the decision say Azinger is replacing Greg Norman. They spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because Fox was still working out the final details of his contract.

Fox signed a 12-year deal with the USGA that started last year, and the first big test was the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Among the criticism of the broadcast was Norman going flat during the decisive moment when Dustin Johnsonthree-putted from 12 feet on the last hole for Jordan Spieth to win his second straight major.

Azinger is a former PGA champion — he beat Norman, of all people, in a playoff at Inverness in 1993 — who led the Americans to a rare Ryder Cup victory at Valhalla in 2008. It was the only Ryder Cup the U.S. has won since 1999.

In just 10 years, Azinger already has made his mark as an analyst for his candor and blunt observations.

The deal reunites Azinger with Fox golf producer Mark Loomis, who was at ABC Sports in 2005 when he put Azinger and Nick Faldo together in the booth with Mike Tirico.

When ABC chose not to renew its contract with the PGA Tour, Azinger became the lead analyst for ESPN.

However, the golf coverage at ESPN has dropped significantly in recent years. ESPN still had the opening two rounds of the Masters, but it lost out on its weekday broadcast of the U.S. Open when Fox won the USGA contract with a $1 billion offer. And while ESPN had all four days of the British Open last year, those rights now belong to NBC Sports.

Azinger will be working with lead announcer Joe Buck at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, along with other USGA events such as the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur. He made his U.S. Open debut at Oakmont in 1983 when he missed the cut. Azinger did not play at Oakmont in 1994 as he recovered from cancer.

He won 11 times on the PGA Tour before he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his right shoulder toward the end of 1993, and he went through six months of chemotherapy. Azinger won for the final time on tour in 2000 at the Sony Open.

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