After being widely criticised for remarks he made about the European Tour during Sunday’s Honda Classic telecast, Paul Azinger has responded to the furore, saying he meant no disrespect.
Discussing 54-hole leader Tommy Fleetwood, a five-time winner on the European Tour, former Ryder Cup-winning captain Azinger had said: “You can win all you want on that European Tour, international game and all that; but you have to win on the PGA Tour.”
Referencing Lee Westwood, who, like Fleetwood, was in contention going into the final round, Azinger added: “Westwood took offence to that actually yesterday when I asked him about that.
"[I said you’ve got] two wins on the PGA Tour but he said, ‘Oh, well, I’ve won forty-four times all over the world.” It’s not the PGA Tour, though, and they know that.”
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In response, Westwood said he believes Azinger “sometimes thinks he has to be controversial to be relevant.” His fellow Englishman Ian Poulter called the comments “embarrassing”, whilst Thomas Bjorn, the mastermind of Europe’s most recent Ryder Cup victory in 2018, said the American had been “at best ignorant, at worst arrogant”.
Various others on social media used far less diplomatic language.
However, speaking to the Golf Channel, Azinger insisted that his remarks weren’t intended to cause offence – but he didn’t exactly back down.
"I wasn't trying to be malicious,” he explained. “I didn't mean to disrespect anyone. But professional golfers choke for two things: cash and prestige. And the PGA Tour has the most of both."