In terms of being deliberately controversial and provocative, Johnny Miller left some pretty big shoes to fill when he stood down as NBC’s lead golf analyst in February 2019.
Judging by his comments at the Honda Classic, his successor, Paul Azinger, will slip into them without much difficulty.
Azinger, the mastermind of the USA’s 2008 Ryder Cup victory at Valhalla, upset plenty of people with his remarks about the European Tour during Sunday’s telecast from the final round of the Honda Classic.
Discussing 54-hole leader Tommy Fleetwood – a five-time winner on the European Tour and a former Race To Dubai champion – Azinger said: “There’s a lot of pressure here. You’re trying to prove to everyone that you’ve got what it takes.
"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 and I think Tommy knows that. It puts a little pressure on Tommy.
“But this is where they want to be, isn’t it? They want to come here. They want to prove that they can win at this level.”
Unsurprisingly, people were quick to chime in, including several top players....
I like @PaulAzinger a lot. And get on with him great. But Paul please do not condescend or disrespect the @EuropeanTour and our players like that. We have slapped your arse in Ryder Cup for so long I know you captained a win but seriously that was embarrassing today.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 2, 2020
It’s not just what he said, it’s the way he said it https://t.co/nVg5GPGWFQ— Chris Paisley (@ChrisPaisley86) March 2, 2020
Pretty disrespectful this to other tours. Sometimes are strength of field is stronger and playing internationally will undoubtedly make u a better player and MOST a better person. More variety of courses to challange u. https://t.co/MMVPAcwxMP— Richie Ramsay (@RamsayGolf) March 2, 2020
Plenty of others were just as unimpressed by Azinger's remarks.
Azinger burying the European Tour just now was shitty. It’s hard to win on any tour, and ignoring Fleetwood’s big Euro wins just because he hasn’t won the Honda or another similar level PGA Tour event is really missing the point on how good Fleetwood is and has been so far.— Adam Sarson (@Adam_Sarson) March 1, 2020
Just listening to Paul Azinger on the golf telling us that winning on the European and World tours count for nothing if you haven't won on the PGA tour. What a pretentious American twat. Don't know how we manage to dominate the Ryder Cup at all.— John Johnson (@JohnJoh08836223) March 1, 2020
I have huge admiration & respect for Paul Azinger. Great analyst. But find it hard to agree with “you must win on the PGA Tour sentiment.” It borders on arrogance.— Luke Elvy (@Luke_Elvy) March 1, 2020
I’ll happily argue for a Tommy Fleetwood type player over a Scott Stallings (4 PGA Tour wins etc). #HondaClassic
Paul Azinger the PGA Tour is not the only place to win. Keep your stupid opinions to your self.— melvin knowles (@tigertubs55) March 1, 2020
In the end, Fleetwood had to settle for third place, a damaging bogey at the last - after finding water with his second shot - effectively handing the victory to South Korea's Sung-jae Im.