Strong Field On Vancouver Island for Victoria Open
A total of 156 golfers are at the 6315-yard, par-70 Uplands Golf Club for the tours 12th official event of the season. Following the Victoria stop, the Canadian Tour will wrap its 2002 campaign with visits to Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto.
Last week, Malaysias Iain Steel defeated Floridas Ken Duke in a playoff at the Greater Vancouver Classic presented by TELUS. Steel has headed back overseas to prepare for the British Open and will not be in Victoria to try for the British Columia sweep. Duke, who captured the Shell Payless Open at this same course back in 1999, will go searching for his first win of the season this week.
As players go through final preparations for Thursdays opening round, the race for the money title is heating up in the latter stages of the season. Jeff Quinney continues to sit atop the money list with $80,011, but Hank Kuehne, Steve Scott and Canadian Derek Gillespie (Oshawa, Ontario) are within striking distance. Three Canadians are among the top ten money leaders- Gillespie ($52,841, fourth), Winnipegs Rob McMillan ($36,526, seventh) and David Hearn of Brantford, Ontario ($33,131, eighth).
Paul Devenport and Jason Bohn, the two most recent winners of this event, are also included in one of the strongest starting fields of the season. In 2001, Devenport, who hails from New Zealand but now resides on Vancouver Island, defeated Victoria native Blair Piercy by one shot at Gorge Vale Golf Club.
Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday
Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.
European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.
Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.
Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.
Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.
Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.
Paul Azinger Joins NBC Sports Group, Succeeding Johnny Miller as Lead Golf Analyst
Azinger Will Be Lead Golf Analyst on Golf Channel and NBC Tournament Coverage, Contribute to Golf Central’s Live From the Masters,
Golf Channel’s Instructional Platforms and Future Golf Films Projects
Paul Azinger will become NBC Sports’ lead golf analyst in 2019, following Johnny Miller’s retirement at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jan. 31-Feb. 3). The announcement was made by Molly Solomon, executive vice president, content, Golf Channel.
“For nearly three decades fans tuning into NBC Sports’ golf coverage have been accustomed to a lead analyst that told it like it was, and that mantra will continue with Paul Azinger calling the action from our 18th tower,” Solomon said. “Following Johnny Miller is a tall order. However, we’re confident in Paul’s ability to serve our viewers with candor and sharp insight, pulling from his decorated professional golf career and extensive broadcast experience.”
“I have great admiration for both the quality of NBC Sports’ coverage and commitment to great storytelling, as well as the network’s deep commitment to the game I love,” Azinger said. “It is a great honor to cover a tremendous slate of PGA TOUR and marquee events, including THE PLAYERS, The Open, Ryder Cup and Tokyo Olympics. Additional opportunities to contribute to instructional and historical projects, as well as Golf Channel’s top-notch news platforms, makes this the role of a lifetime.”
“Paul is one of the most perceptive minds in golf,” said Tommy Roy, lead golf producer, NBC Sports. “His innate ability to dissect the action in front of him and convey it to the viewer in such a concise, assured manner is what we value most across our tournament broadcast team.”
Additionally, Azinger will contribute to Golf Channel’s portfolio of platforms, ranging from Golf Central’s Live From the Masters alongside former colleague Mike Tirico; develop instructional content for both on-air and via Revolution Golf; and develop documentary projects for Golf Channel’s Emmy-nominated and critically-acclaimed Golf Films.
Azinger’s NBC Sports schedule in 2019, which will regularly include all four days of tournament coverage on Golf Channel and NBC, will kick off at the WGC-Mexico Championship (Feb. 21-24). NBC Sports will allow Azinger to continue to call The Masters for the BBC, as well as the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open on FOX.
Paul Azinger Bio:
After playing for Florida State University, Azinger’s professional career highlights include 17 worldwide wins, including 12 PGA TOUR wins and the 1993 PGA Championship, as well as captaining the victorious 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Following his breakthrough major championship victory at the PGA Championship at Inverness, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After battling the disease for months with intensive chemotherapy and radiation, he was able to return to golf and received the Golf Writer’s Association of America Ben Hogan Award in 1995, which recognizes a professional golfer who remains active in the sport despite serious illness or physical handicap. Azinger’s comeback was fully realized in 2000, when at the age of forty, he won the Sony Open in Hawaii.
From 2006-2015 he served as the lead golf analyst for ABC and subsequently ESPN. In 2016, he joined Fox Sports' team for its slate of USGA Championships. Paul enjoys many hobbies off the course, including an affinity for poker and foosball, as well as maintaining a consistent schedule of all types of fishing. Azinger and his wife Toni reside in Bradenton, Fla., near their daughters Josie (son-in-law Sebastian) and Sarah Jean (son-in-law Tim). They are proud grandparents of Campbell and Houston.
CJ Cup purse payout: Koepka gets PAID
Brooks Koepka vaulted to world No. 1 with his victory at the CJ Cup. He also earned a lot of money. Here's how the purse was paid out in South Korea.
|T3||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-15||$551,000|
|T14||Ted Potter Jr.||-9||$164,730|
|T23||Si Woo Kim||-7||$79,895|
|T41||Dong Seop Maeng||-4||$30,970|
|T41||Byeong Hun An||-4||$30,970|
|T55||Tae hee Lee||-1||$19,095|
|T61||Charles Howell III||E||$18,050|
Don't expect Azinger to try to be another MIller
Acting-school teachers call it "using the space," and there are few in golf who can so effortlessly fill a room like Paul Azinger.
The subject is irrelevant. 'Zinger can cover a lot of ground without a lot of prompting, from fishing to leadership management, but it’s not so much his insight and analysis as much as it is his passion.
“My wife told me, ‘You’re good at two things, golf and talking,’” Azinger laughed.
The former lifted Azinger to a dozen PGA Tour victories, including the 1993 PGA Championship, during a playing career that spanned three decades, while the latter has now led him to the pinnacle in golf broadcasting.
Azinger, 58, reluctantly concedes that although he’s technically succeeding Johnny Miller as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst beginning next year, he will never “replace” the legend.
“The reality is I’m not going to fill Johnny Miller’s shoes. I’m just going to be myself. Johnny just said tell it like it is. Those shoes are not to be filled. That’s not my goal,” Azinger said.
Azinger’s body of work in the booth is well established. Where Miller’s analysis has been defined by his blunt and sometimes cutting honesty, Azinger, since he first transitioned to the television world in 2005 – first with ABC Sports and then with ESPN and Fox Sports – has shown a unique ability to effortlessly entertain and inform.
It wasn’t always that way. During a recent interview Azinger interrupted his normal stream of consciousness and admitted that when he arrived at Brevard [Fla.] Community College in the late 1970s his biggest challenge wasn’t playing golf or maintaining a proper grade-point average – it was speaking.
“I dropped out of speech class my first year of college because I was so afraid to do the speech,” he admitted before inserting his own punch line. “Once my voice activation system kicked on, now you can’t shut me up.”
It’s difficult to see it now from a man who is poised to become the game’s foremost conversationalist, but there was a time when one might have described Azinger as an introvert.
Even into his playing days on Tour Azinger was easy and airy around his fellow professionals, but he was never entirely comfortable in a crowd until 1987, which was a breakout year both competitively and personally.
“I was forced to give a speech in 1987; I was PGA player of the year,” said Azinger, who won three times in ’87 and finished runner-up at The Open. “There were 600 people, that was my first speech. There were more people than I wanted to see. I didn’t know what to do. It was awful. I got up and cracked a joke and kept going.”
And he’s been talking ever since.
When Azinger first joined the Tour, he remembers, he got lessons from Byron Nelson and short-game advice from Ben Crenshaw, and he’s competed against every top player from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods.
He once lost a memorable shoot-out to Woods at Nicklaus’ tournament and was there when Tiger introduced himself to the world in 1996 at the Greater Milwaukee Open.
“Payne Stewart and I were on the tarmac in Milwaukee and I introduced myself,” he recalled. “I begged (Woods) to stay amateur because I knew he was going to do some damage.”
After retiring from competition in the mid-2000s with a variety of back ailments, Azinger was the original American task force when he led the U.S. team to victory at the ’08 Ryder Cup. He’s watched with keen interest as a new generation has transformed the game over the last decade.
Although 'Zinger’s style promises to be different from Miller’s, players shouldn’t expect kid-glove treatment.
“I see the game of golf as broadly as I ever have. I see all the technology and try to take in the global nature of it,” he said. “I marvel that a guy can hit a golf ball 326 [yards] in the air. They can make a mockery of the hole, but they can make double bogey or triple as well.”
He showed his fiery side at this year’s U.S. Open while he was working for Fox Sports and the conversation turned to backstopping, the controversial practice of players attempting to use an opponent’s golf ball to gain an advantage.
“In our generation, the guy who chipped it up there, we didn’t have to tell him to mark that ball. He went up and marked it and we waited on him to mark it. That’s just how it was,” Azinger said at the time. “It’s not right and we all know it’s not right. Be friendly and all that, but do it correctly.”
No, Azinger has no interest in shying away from difficult subjects, just don’t expect him to go to the “choke” comments as quickly as Miller. That’s not his style.
Where Miller could be a blunt instrument at times, expect Azinger to deliver his assessments, however critical, with a smile and probably a joke.
“I love to talk golf as much as I ever have in my life. I think I would regret it if I didn’t take this opportunity,” Azinger admitted. “To be there live for the big events is an opportunity that not many people get. I watch golf with more of a keen eye than I ever have.”
Azinger was right, there is no replacing Miller, who will call his last event as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst at next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. 'Zinger will bring his own style to the booth complete with an easy smile, disarming Southern drawl and a unique ability to thoroughly use the space.