The first part of a Q&A with new Fox golf analyst Paul Azinger landed online Saturday afternoon. That leaves the rest of the interview for this spot:
Q: Did you like dealing with the media as a player? It’s interesting how some players who didn’t enjoy the media aspect then get into the media business once the pressure is off them as a player and they can be more themselves.
A I loved the media, always, and made good friends with the beat writers because I figured I’d see them all the time and might be nice to know them on a first-name basis. And I hung out with them. The media was a big part of my success at Ryder Cup (as a captain for the 2008 team that won). They actually helped me with stats, who’s hot and who’s, as I was figuring things out.
Q: At one point in your career, you had to beat David Feherty in a playoff to win an European Tour event in 1990 in Germany. What kind of an opponent was he then?
A: He was hilarious then, but more an eccentric, quirky guy. I remember one year he had the lead at the British Open and we had a giant tent for all the players and families to eat and chill out. So before we out to play the next round, there’s Feherty on one of these big long couches with headphones on, and it had to be a Walkman back then, his eyes are closed and his head going back and forth like Stevie Wonder, and I’m thinking, ‘This dude is out there.’ It’s like watching (Miguel Angel) Jimenez warm up. There are just some things you shouldn’t do in public. Feherty was grinding back then. It’s like they say with Ryder Cups: Just go and have fun? When the bell rings, the fun is over. There’s nothing fun about Ryder Cup. It’s hard work.
Q: When Fox started in the sports business, it created a “Fox Attitude” that it injected into football, baseball, hockey … can it work for golf? Is this a set of viewers too set in their ways and don’t want to see “attitude” come into play?
A: As long as we keep things fundamentally and functionally correct on our side, the technical side can do those kind of things. It’s interesting. When you let the pictures tell a better story, we can talk about how, as human beings who played the game, how we had to think a different way to be accomplished, probably different than someone else, and that’s what we want to do. I don’t think anyone’s going to be up there telling you what you just saw.
Q: What’s the benefit of working all four rounds of a golf tournament, rather than just parachuting in for the final two rounds on the network?
A: You can build on a story. You may study 30 players and have everything memorized about them, then all of the sudden someone jumps in. The course is always a story. The USGA is a story. But then it unfolds and more stories happen and that’s what we’re looking to enhance the story with information you may not know.
Q: Your course knowledge of Oakmont is pretty good? You’ve spent enough times in the church pew bunkers?
A: Of course. You’re almost better off in there sometimes because decisions are made for you. There’s no way out to the green. There’s a grass strip you can get lucky and land on that, but the rough is so deep, you’re wacking laterally.
Q: You’re in the process of writing a book about the golf swing?
A: I’m trying to take all that’s been made complicated and make it simple. My goal is mostly how to think. I was frustrated with instruction. They all look at (Ben) Hogan’s swing and interpret it differently. All I’m thinking: I guess you gotta get lucky and get the guy with the right opinion of your swing. Phil Blackmar and I have it narrowed to three things everyone has to do, and in a sequence. They don’t all do it the same. Two turns and a swish. Turn, turn, swish.
Q: The 2023 U.S. Open happens to be right over here at Los Angeles Country Club. Are you going to be around for the Fox coverage?
A: Heck, I hope so. What will I be then … 63? If I’m not fired or something. I played L.A. North a lot and really like it. My rookie year I came out here to qualify for the (1982) U.S. Open – 136 guys to qualify for six spots. No warmup. I birdied the last two holes for a 73 – and it got me in. I never thought it would make it. Maybe that means something now.