VIDEO: Paul Azinger PGA Tour Champion; Cancer Survivor and US Ryder Cup Team Captain
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // February 14, 2017
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Paul Azinger Won 11 Tournaments In A Seven-Year Span On The PGA Tour, Including The 1993 PGA Championship At The Inverness Club In Ohio.
PAUL AZINGER – 2015 INDUCTEE
• Florida Amateur Champ At BCC
• US Ryder Cup Team Captain
• 11 PGA Tour Championships
STARTED GOLF AT AGE 5
Paul Azinger did not come to Brevard Community College with a championship golf pedigree. In fact, he was not even A-Team material back when he arrived in the fall of 1978.
While born in Massachusetts, he played high school golf at Sarasota High School.
He had been playing since he was five years old, but didn’t break 40 throughout his senior year.
Following high school, a buddy was offered a full ride at BCC, which had won three consecutive junior college national championships. So Azinger tagged along and got a walk-on role.
In his first year, he won one match play event, which earned some notice from head coach, Jim Suttie. But it was the following summer that turned Paul Azinger’s game around.
He scored a job at Bay Hill, working as a counselor at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy. Though he made a little cash, the real bonus was unlimited golf at the renowned Central Florida course.
He came back to BCC for his sophomore year as one of the team’s top players. That year, he made his mark on the junior college circuit by winning Golfweek’s Florida State Amateur Match Play Championship.
Azinger left Brevard after his sophomore year with a scholarship spot at Florida State University.
He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in his one season as a Seminole and turned pro in 1981.
He won 11 tournaments in a seven-year span on the PGA Tour, which included his one major title – the 1993 PGA Championship at the Inverness Club in Ohio.
He birdied four of the final seven holes on Sunday to tie Greg Norman after 72 holes.
He then bested Norman in the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Shortly after his PGA victory, Azinger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his right shoulder. He attacked the disease like he attacked the golf course.
After six months of chemotherapy and an additional five weeks of radiation, he was once again a winner – this time against cancer. His book – Zinger – chronicled his fight against the disease.
While, he won once more on the tour in 2000, the culmination of his professional career occurred in 2008 when he captained the US Ryder Cup team to their first victory over Europe in 10 years.
Azinger and psychologist Ron Braund later penned, Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy: Make it Work for You – about their strategy on building that winning team.
“Inspired by team-building techniques used by Navy SEALS, I divided the 12-man team into small groups, or pods. I placed golfers based on their personality types, rather than their golf games,” Azinger says on his website.
In the book, he and Braund “tell the compelling story of how the U.S. team members, half of them Ryder Cup rookies, overcame their underdog status to bring the cup back to America. In the telling, we offer team-building techniques that apply to sports, business, and beyond.”
While no longer in competitive golf, Azinger still loves to win – only now it is at the poker table and playing foosball.
He is also a longtime golf analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports.
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
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