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Captain Paul Azinger
Paul Azinger will captain the 2008 United States Ryder Cup team when the biennial matches against Europe are held at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky, Sept. 16-21, 2008.
"I just want to say that it is, I think, the greatest honor you can bestow on a professional golfer is to ask him to captain a Ryder Cup team, and I'm awestruck by it," said Azinger.
The 46-year-old Azinger, a member four Ryder Cup teams (1989, 1991, 1993 and 2002), will attempt to turn the tide for the once-dominant Americans, who have watched Europe win five of the last six meetings. The European's second straight 18?-9? win at the K Club outside Dublin, Ireland, in September gave them three straight wins for the first time in Ryder Cup history.
Azinger is the 25th Ryder Cup Captain and the 15th PGA Champion to guide a team in one of the world's most compelling sports events. He has won 14 worldwide professional championships since becoming a Tour professional in 1981.
"Paul Azinger's passion for the game, his courage to battle back from debilitating disease and his leadership in past Ryder Cups make him the ideal leader to guide the American team in 2008 at Valhalla," said PGA of America President Roger Warren. "Paul is one of the game's biggest supporters of the Ryder Cup and his performances have earned him the respect of his peers as well as many around the world."
In 15 career Ryder Cup matches, Azinger, the 1993 PGA Champion, compiled a record of 5-7-3, including a 2-0-2 mark in singles play.
Shortly after the 1993 Ryder Cup, Azinger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in his right shoulder. Azinger overcame his battle with cancer and became a Tour winner for the 12th time in his illustrious career with an emotional victory at the 2000 Sony Open in Hawaii.
In his four Ryder Cup appearances, Azinger experienced both highs and lows. His American side tied the Europeans in 1989 (Europe retained the Cup, having won in 1987), won outright in 1991 and 1993 and lost in 2002. In 2002, he was chosen as one of then-captain Curtis Strange's two at-large selections.
In 1991 at Kiawah Island, Azinger earned a crucial point in his singles match with Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal, helping the American's to a 14?-13? win.
In 2008, Azinger will square off against his ABC golf telecast booth-mate and Ryder Cup rival Nick Faldo, who will captain the Europeans.
Arguably the most memorable on-course battle between Azinger and Faldo came in their singles match at the Belfry during the 1993 Ryder Cup. Faldo had a hole-in-one in the match and, despite the fact that the U.S. had picked up enough points to win the cup, the feisty Azinger fought back to earn a half-point.
Azinger later joked when NBC Sports showed highlights of that singles duel, "Look at that. I had cancer and he still couldn't beat me."
"It will be a good rivalry," Azinger commented, "but it's America vs. Europe not Nick vs. Paul."
Azinger even pointed out that he had received a congratulatory text message from his European counterpart two minutes before taking the podium for the captain's selection announcement.
Faldo issued a statement immediately following the announcement of Azinger's selection.
"I played in three Ryder Cups when Paul was in the opposing side, and for the last two years we have worked together commenting for the ABC network. I feel that we have respect for each other both on and off the course, and I am certain that we will both enjoy the challenge of captaining our respective Teams at Valhalla in just under two years time."
Azinger was approached by the PGA of America about the possibility of captaining the U.S. team at the 2004 Ryder Cup—a squad many believed would be captained by Azinger's close friend, the late Payne Stewart, who died in a plane crash shortly after the American's last Ryder Cup win in 1999 at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. However, Azinger declined.
With Azinger at the helm in 2008, the U.S. will be looking for its first Ryder Cup win since 1999. In the last two matches, the U.S. has lost by a record margin of 18?-9? under Hal Sutton at Oakland Hills in 2004 and under Tom Lehman at the K Club in Ireland this past September.
Azinger is a native of Holyoke, Mass., and a resident of Bradenton, Fla. He attended Brevard Junior College and Florida State University before turning professional in 1981. He captured his first Tour victory in 1987 and also earned that year's PGA Player of the Year Award. In 1995, he was honored by the Golf Writers Association of America with the Ben Hogan Award, presented to an individual who remains active in golf despite physical handicap or serious illness.
Azinger and his wife, Toni, have two daughters: Sarah Jean, 21; and Josie Lynn, 15.
Azinger joins a succession of golf's greatest players in the role of Ryder Cup Captain. Walter Hagen, the first Captain in 1927, was followed by such legendary performers as Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino.Full Name: Paul Azinger
Birthdate: 1.1.60; Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA
Height/Weight: 6ft 2in / 175lbs (12st 5lbs)
Family: Wife: Toni; Children: Sarah and Josie
Interests: Fishing, foosball
Turned Professional: 1981
Appearances: 1989, 91 (winners), 93 (winners), 2002
|Overall||15||5||7||3||Total points: 6.5|
|Day 1 Fourballs||Torrance/Brand Jr. beat Strange/Azinger (1 hole)|
|Day 2 Foursomes||Beck/Azinger beat Brand Jr./Torrance (4 & 3)|
|Day 2 Fourballs||Beck/Azinger beat Faldo/Woosnam (2 & 1)|
|Final Day Singles||Azinger beat Ballesteros (1 hole)|
|Day 1 Fourballs||Ballesteros/Olazábal beat Azinger/Beck (2 & 1)|
|Day 1 Foursomes||Ballesteros/Olazábal beat Azinger/Beck (2 & 1)|
|Day 2 Fourballs||Woosnam/Broadhurst beat Azinger/Irwin (2 & 1)|
|Final Day Singles||Azinger beat Olazábal (2 holes)|
|Day 1 Fourballs||Woosnam/Langer beat Azinger/Stewart (7 & 5)|
|Day 1 Foursomes||Azinger/Couples halved with Faldo/Montgomerie|
|Day 2 Foursomes||Woosnam/Langer beat Azinger/Couples (2 & 1)|
|Day 2 Fourballs||Woosnam/Baker beat Azinger/Couples (6 & 5)|
|Final Day Singles||Azinger halved with Faldo|
|Day 1 Fourballs||Clarke/Björn beat Woods/Azinger (1-up)|
|Final Day Singles||Azinger halved with Fasth|
|US PGA TOUR VICTORIES: Total 12|
|1987||Phoenix Open, Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational, Canon Sammy Davis Jr.-Greater Hartford Open|
|1988||Hertz Bay Hill Classic|
|1989||Canon Greater Hartford Open|
|1990||MONY Tournament of Champions|
|1991||AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am|
|1992||THE TOUR Championship|
|1993||Memorial Tournament, New England Classic, PGA Championship|
|2000||Sony Open in Hawaii|
|EUROPEAN TOUR INTERNATIONAL SCHEDULE VICTORIES: Total 2|
|1990||BMW International Open|
|1992||BMW International Open|
|Ryder Cup 1989, 91 (winners), 93 (winners), 2002|
|World Cup 1989|
|The Presidents Cup 1994 (Captain's Assistant), 2000|
|1995||GWAA Ben Hogan Award|
|1987||PGA and Golf World Player of the Year|
|1984||PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament medalist|