Azinger has signed on to broadcast 14 events, including the Open Championship and Ryder Cup. He'll also retain his position as FOX's top analyst for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open.
Twelve-time PGA Tour winner and winning 2008 Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger will replace Johnny Miller as NBC's lead golf analyst, the company announced on a conference call Monday morning.
Azinger, 58, has served as FOX's lead analyst for its broadcasts of the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open over the last two years, and he'll retain that role despite the new deal with NBC.
"I’m just going to be myself,” Azinger said. “I have nothing but praise for Johnny and his style and what he’s done, and that’s with respect to analysts in all sports. One thing he’s been great at is being himself. He left me a big spot to step into, but I’m excited about it.”
Miller's last event will be the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February. NBC's next broadcast after Phoenix is the WGC-Mexico Championship from Feb. 21-24, and all signs point toward that being Azinger's first event with the network.
Miller's unrelenting candor and unapologetic honesty in the booth saw him draw both praise and critcism over his 29-year broadcasting career, and replacing him would be no easy task for anyone.
Azinger was one of the best players in the world in the late 80s/early 90s, spending 300 weeks inside the top 10 in the world rankings and winning his lone major at the 1993 PGA Championship. Shortly after that PGA Championship victory, he was diagnosed with lymphoma in his shoulder and missed time to undergo chemotherapy. He would return to the tour and won his 12th and final tournament in 2000.
Perhaps his most memorable post-playing accomplishment came when he led a Tiger Woods-less Ryder Cup team to a 16.5-11.5 win at Valhalla, giving the American team its first win since 1999.
His first foray into broadcasting came during the 1995 Ryder Cup, and he joined ESPN/ABC Sports in 2005 as an analyst. After ESPN/ABC lost its rights to the U.S. Open in 2016, Azinger left to join FOX.
Now, he joins his third network in his biggest role yet. He'll join play-by-play man Dan Hicks in the booth for 14 events in 2019, including the Players Championship and Open Championship. NBC tried out some big-name candidates to replace Miller, including in-house candidates David Duval and Brandel Chamblee, as well as Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard and Davis Love III.
Azinger's broadcast style is not entirely dissimilar to Miller's—he is talkative, honest and not afraid to call out a poor shot or decision. Perhaps his distinctly un-cookie cutter style gave him an edge for a network looking to replace golf's most colorful and polarizing announcer.
“I’m just beside myself,” Azinger said. “Now I get to listen to Dan Hicks, who’s loaded with knowledge. I can’t believe I get to sit beside him.
“But at the end of the day, I’m just going to be myself. That’s all I can do.”