Seeing Tiger Woods in his Sunday red has Paul Azinger giddy for new NBC Sports gig

Paul Azinger is cackling again at the other end of the line.

The 1993 PGA champion with a giant personality has always enjoyed a good laugh, always been able to chuckle at himself. He’s always been quick with the needle, too, and always sees the glass as half full. A cancer survivor for 25 years now, he continues to be a 58-year-old kid at heart. And right now, he’s downright giddy.

“How good is golf going to be? How good is life right now with Tiger Woods in the mix?” Azinger said as he erupted in a long burst of joy, knowing that he’s back in the vortex that is Tiger Woods.

On Monday, NBC Sports Network announced Azinger will replace Johnny Miller as the main voice in golf for NBC and Golf Channel, a contract calling for him to call 14 tournaments per year.

Miller is a giant act to follow, Azinger will tell you, an outspoken analyst who took shots while he called shots, a voice that built legions of supporters and detractors. But just as when he faced Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and all others in years gone by, Azinger won’t shy from the challenge.

“I’m not going to try and fill Johnny’s shoes. I’m just going to be myself, like Johnny was himself,” Azinger told USA TODAY Sports. “Johnny was the first announcer to boo a bad shot except he never booed. That was who he is and that was so great about him. For me, I’ve done it for a long time, I’m comfortable, and I’m just going to be myself the best I can.

“I’m just going to be myself, like Johnny was himself.”

It’s worked so far, his outgoing nature, sense of humor and ability to analyze the golf swing and situations in a way one can understand have played well over the air.

Azinger, who won 12 titles on the PGA Tour and captained the U.S. to victory in the 2008 Ryder Cup, was the lead analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports from 2005 to 2015, initially sharing duties alongside Faldo. Azinger joined Fox Sports as the lead analyst in 2016 and will remain in that capacity for the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. He will also contribute to Live from the Masters, instructional platforms and Golf Films projects.

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