Azinger a True American But What if

By George WhiteAugust 20, 2001, 4:00 pm
There was a time, not too long ago, when Paul Azinger was thin as a 1-iron, long-haired, wearing white shoes, dark slacks and a shirt that was some shade of red. It was less than a decade ago, and Azinger was just a kid, a kid who happened to be pretty good at golf.
 
Today, he isnt so skinny. He isnt so long-haired. And he isnt as good. But at age 41, this Floridian is back on the Ryder Cup team after an eight-year absence. He still is a kid, but an older, wiser kid. At the end of 1993, he was diagnosed with cancer in his shoulder and underwent the debilitating effects of chemotherapy. Forced for a period of time to stare death right in the face, he struggled and eventually won that battle. The fight to regain a semblance of a professional golf game took longer.
 
In 1996, Paul and I did a story for an English magazine in which he delved into his feelings for his country, among other things. During his three years as a Ryder Cupper, Azinger was the most rabid of competitors, bleeding red-white-and-blue all over. His confrontations with Seve Ballesteros, Europes most ardent Ryder Cupper, are legendary now. But when Curtis Strange selected Azinger as a member of the 2001 team, you knew patriotism had re-entered the Ryder Cup, I mean old-fashioned, red-blooded, salute-the-flag and hold-your-heart patriotism.
 
Azingers father was an Air Force officer, which must be where it came from. Paul was a normal high school boy with all the high-jinks that come to boys of that age. He caroused and played numerous pranks and sneaked a beer and generally was a bit mischievous, but nothing to suggest he would become a flag-waver.
 
The magazine story was quite revealing, though. What did he want the Europeans to know about him?
 
That Im just a typical red-blooded American boy who takes his golf pretty seriously, with no offense to anyone, he began. I just feel like Im as competitive as anybody theyd ever want to know, and everything I do, I do with malice towards no one.
 
I love life, I love living, Im fun to be around and the biggest kid they would ever know.
 
Azinger, it must be remembered, was the most disliked of any American by the European fans. But if he had been born, say, in England, he says he would have been just as drawn to that countrys flag as he is Americas.
 
Yes, Im sure I would, he said. I would be exactly the same in that regard.
 
I think love of country is a wonderful thing. I respect and admire anybody who feels that for his country. Had I been raised in England, I would be just as fiercely proud of England as I am about the USA.
 
Azinger can rhapsodize about some things British, proving that he isnt blinded to all things from the island. What does he most like about the United Kingdom? He loves the quietness, the majesty that is Great Britain.
 
The beauty, he says simply. The countryside. Incredible. The scenery. Just the overwhelming beauty of the nature of Great Britain. Its such a beautiful place.
 
If he could change it, there is but one thing he would dare tinker with ' 'the weather. Thats pretty simple ' just the weather. Everything else, why would anyone want to change it?
 
He sat beside Strange at the Monday media conference and was, well, reclusive, in a way. He politely and thoughtfully answered questions. But he knows plenty well that he wont be the focal point of the team this year. That role belongs to Woods and Duval and Mickelson and all those guys in the 20s and 30s.
 
But it will be a long time before we forget about Azinger and Ballesteros, both trying to achieve what they could through all means legal ' and some that were rather shady. Strange played a hunch in picking Paul, and Azinger is in no condition to guarantee Strange points for the American side. But he will give the American lads a reason to stand up to the flag, if nothing else.
 
Im not sure Azinger was the right pick in this age of political correctness ' after all, the situation is about as fragile as it can get, considering the ugly mood still lingering following the events at Brookline in 1999. But Paul is, if nothing else, patriotic. And if he had been born in the UK, he would have been just as British as Prince Charles. He loves his golf, but even more, he loves his flag.
 
Full Coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.