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Paul Azinger

Paul Azinger, 44, was recently hired, along with Nick Faldo, as a color commentator for ABC's golf telecasts. He spoke with SI's Gary Van Sickle at the Tour Championship.

Q: Did you sweat out election night?

A: Big time. I badly wanted Bush to win. I actually didn't watch any politics on TV for five weeks leading up to the election because I was so sick and tired of listening to all the experts, who don't know squat. My mind was made up, so I watched sports instead. I did watch election night, although I swore that I wouldn't.

Q: How long before you're compared with Johnny Miller?

A: Probably immediately, though there's not much comparison. Something happened [last Saturday] on the course that could've stirred some things up, and I started to talk about it, but they stopped me at the break, so I let it go. Johnny wouldn't have asked. He'd have gone right into it. At ABC, with Ian Baker-Finch and Nick Faldo, we have three guys in the booth who've won majors. We have a lot of credibility if anybody gives us crap about what we say.

Q: Did you ever think you'd end up with Faldo in a TV booth?

A: Honestly, in 23 years playing professional golf, I bet I haven't spent 2 1/2 minutes in conversation with him. But when we got here, we hit it off right away. ABC is banking on a big contrast between the two of us, and so far they're getting it. We brought up on the air our '93 Ryder Cup match during which he talked me into giving him his putt on 16 after we found out the U.S. had clinched a tie. I shot back that he should've given me my putt on 18. He's keeping a tally of how many times I've ripped on him. I think I'm up 4--0.

Q: What's this TV job imply about your future?

A: I still want to play. I'm simply at a Y in the road and going in both directions for a while. ABC's initial request was for 20 events, but we chiseled it down to 12. Nick still wants to play some, too.

Q: What's the best thing about this TV gig?

A: I'm not a bit nervous, and they're paying me to flap my gums.

Q: The worst thing?

A: Having a boss for the only time in my life ... not counting my wife.

Golf Plus will next appear in the Nov. 29 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED



Azinger (right) with Mike Tirico and Faldo.