After questioning Tommy Fleetwood's European Tour resume and highlighting his lack of a PGA Tour victory heading into the final round of the Honda Classic, NBC golf analyst Paul Azinger has responded to some criticism his comments received from two noted Europeans.
Azinger was setting the scene for the final round at PGA National, where Fleetwood teed off with a one-shot lead. While he has won five times in Europe, including the season-long Race to Dubai title in 2017, he was seeking his first PGA Tour victory.
"These guys know, you can win all you want on the European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour," Azinger said. "They all know that, and I think Tommy knows that. And it's put a little pressure on Tommy, but this is where they want to be. They want to come here and prove they can make it at this level."
Fleetwood ultimately finished third, rinsing his approach on the 72nd hole when a birdie would have forced a playoff with eventual winner Sungjae Im. While he didn't respond directly to Azinger's comments, his fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood both took to Twitter to criticize Azinger's stance.
"One minute Paul walks down the range wishing you good luck before you play, the next he's condescending (sic) to the tour you play on and disrespects the tournaments you've won around the world," Westwood wrote Monday, one day after he tied for fourth at PGA National. "I've won in 19 different countries over 4 decades. That is disrespecting a lot of people!"
Azinger noted during the broadcast that Westwood "took offense" to his premise, having won 44 times around the world but only twice on the PGA Tour, but when reached by Golfweek he backed up his view on the importance of winning on this side of the Atlantic.
"I wasn't trying to be malicious. I didn't mean to disrespect anyone," Azinger said. "But professional golfers choke for two things: cash and prestige. And the PGA Tour has the most of both."