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McGinley Could Be The Right Man To Replace Azinger

By: | Wed 29 Nov 2023

It came as a shock when NBC announced that they would not be renewing Paul Azinger’s contract as lead golf analyst. Azinger has always been known for his controversial views and has never been afraid to say what he thinks.

So it comes as another surprise that they might be replacing him with Paul McGinley. The Irishman has established himself as a serious commentator with Sky Sports Golf and is highly respected. But he has one key thing in common with Azinger - he also speaks his mind.

Paul Mcginley

Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

McGinley is one of golf’s deep thinkers and has been asked to fill Azinger’s place at this week’s Hero World Challenge, which will coincide with the return to competitive action of a certain Tiger Woods. And believe me, if McGinley is asked to give his verdict on Woods, he will give it - and he will not hold back.

After five years, Azinger was released by NBC in a decision that shocked many, including the man himself, who described it as “surprising and disappointing.”

To be fair to NBC, Azinger is a Marmite figure, loved and despised in almost equal measure. One of the main criticisms was that he failed to check statistics. Of one thing I can assure you - that will never happen with McGinley. He is obsessed with stats and has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the professional game and those who play it.

McGinley has not been confirmed as permanent replacement for the American but he surely wouldn’t be asked to fill in if NBC were not seriously considering him. If there is an issue for American viewers it might be his accent.

It certainly won’t be his attention to detail. When he captained Europe in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014 he impressed everybody with his meticulous planning.

McGinley is an interesting fit as a lead analyst next to play-by-play man Dan Hicks. He is a popular figure among players and production staff at Sky and his extensive experience with both live tournament coverage and studio work makes him a safe choice from a workload standpoint.

He has not worked as a lead analyst before but he is made for the role. He puts everybody at ease, understands what it takes to win at the highest level, knows the game from A-Z - and he also has a mischievous sense of humour.

As an analyst, McGinley is sharp and opinionated, his forthrightness and intelligence serving as two of his biggest strengths.

And unlike many former players, McGinley remains close to many of today’s stars, and they all respect and like him. It means he has a unique insight.

NBC have had just two analysts in 35 years - Johnny Miller for 30 years and Azinger for five. They have been heavily criticised for their coverage of golf so will know that they need to get the next appointment right.

McGinley has the chance at the Hero to stake his claim for the position - and I expect him to grab it with both hands.

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