Paul Azinger is wrong – the European Tour is great

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 11, 2020 12:05

Paul Azinger stirred up a lot of anger among the Europeans on both the PGA and European Tour with his comments during the final round of the Honda Classic. In an outburst, the 60-year-old stated that winning on the European Tour does not mean anything until a player is able to do it on the PGA Tour.

Azinger used Lee Westwood as his case in point by belittling the fact that the Englishman had only registered two out of his 44 professional wins on the PGA Tour. All of this came at a time where Tommy Fleetwood was in the running to win the Honda Classic, which promoted Azinger to set off on his comments that have subsequently received a volcanic reaction from the tour players.

If the truth be told, these types of disparaging remarks about the European Tour aren’t just exclusive to Paul Azinger. There is often a condescending tone in the NBC commentary box which, it must be said, does surprise a lot of people in Europe. Indeed, looking across the Atlantic at the PGA Tour you are often left feeling quite underwhelmed at the PGA Tour product as a whole.

2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA winner Lee Westwood, who said “I think Paul Azinger sometimes thinks he has to be controversial to be relevant.”

It is virtually impossible to distinguish between one course and the other as the PGA Tour rolls around to a different state every week. They are all more or less all big fields with very little charm to favour players who can hit the ball over 350 yards. You then line them with spectators who yell ‘mash potato’ and ‘light the candle’ at every shot and, well, you all of a sudden have a very unpleasant tour on your hands. Or at the very least, something that European golfers are not accustomed to.

For the most part though, European golf fans keep their thoughts to themselves. They would rather spend their energy savouring the fact that they have a world-class tour that treats its players and viewers to the best sights in Europe.

Has Paul Azinger ever seen a tournament in the Algarve that goes down to the 72nd hole, whilst the cool wind that comes off the Atlantic from the south, and the Mediterranean from the east, is the only thing to calm the nerves? Has Azinger ever heard the bagpipes in the distance as players battle down the Road Hole and 18th to win the Open at St Andrews? Has Azinger ever had the Alps tower over him as he played a round at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club?

The European Tour provides the best spectacle in world golf and creates the best players in the world, as the Ryder Cup results reflect with Europe having won six of the last eight events. It was only in 2018 when Europe stormed to victory at Le Golf National in Paris, and you’d like to think that Azinger still has that fresh in his mind.

Golf in the Algarve

In fact, if you were to look ahead to the first major of the year at Augusta and The Masters Betting Odds, you will see that the current favourites in the top two, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, are both European.

The bottom line is that Paul Azinger is so far from the truth it’s almost funny – but, ultimately, it isn’t.

Alas, Azinger won’t be the last retired American pro to embarrass himself by throwing stones at the European Tour. Maybe if more of them followed what the world number three and American golden boy Brooks Koepka did by joining the European tour as a young man, they would see how it shapes the players blazing the trail in world golf.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 11, 2020 12:05
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