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April 14, 2010

Paul Azinger


THE MODERATOR: Paul, thanks for joining us this afternoon. You got in your pro-am round there. Your first appearance here in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am in your rookie year on the Champions Tour.
Just a few thoughts about playing in this week's tournament. Sort of a semi home game for you. Right down the road.
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, 65 miles from my door to the parking lot. I was gonna commute until I saw I had a 7:15 tee time on Friday. So I think I might spend the night tomorrow night.
But I'm looking forward to it. I've played the golf course few times in the past, so I know it fairly well. I think it's one of the more watched events. You know, the fact that it's on NBC I think is good.
But I'm excited to play. I know the conditions are gonna be severe -- I mean, tough anyway, maybe not severe. It's gonna be like this according to the weatherman I watched all week. I think it'll be difficult. I'm excited about it.
I've actually practiced a little bit, so... The first two weeks all I did was beg off. I'm gonna play terrible, I'm gonna play terrible. Now I'll probably play terrible, but at least I've been practicing.
THE MODERATOR: I guess a couple weeks off here. A. , did you watch the Masters? Your impressions of that? And then your impressions of the Champions Tour events that you have played thus far.
PAUL AZINGER: Well, the Champions events I played were great fun. It was great seeing everybody again. I just realized that, you know, at any level, at every level, in order to be competitive you're gonna have to shoot great scores.
I don't care where you're playing, any mini tour or any tour around the world. The scores at the top are just always really low. No different here.
The Masters, it was -- what struck me as much as anything was that the excitement was back at Augusta. It seemed like we had a bit of a lull there. The golf course and the conditions combined made for really boring golf in some respects. Very difficult to watch knowing that the potential for excitement was somehow taken away.
What happened there this year, I don't know how you can top it. I think it's one of those, you know, only be equaled and not surpassed type of events. It was just great to see.
You saw a lot of heart from guys like Watson, Fred Couples. Anthony Kim really hearted it out and gutted it out. You had to feel for Lee Westwood. The emotion there for all of Europe watching and pulling for him.
And then for Phil Mickelson, to show the heart, the guts, the courage. You know, the consequences were severe for him if that shot on 13 isn't pulled off. You know, everybody and their brother is gonna ridicule him for life.
And winning the tournament really in the end because he didn't hit it in the ditch -- or Rae's creek, excuse me. But it might have erased Winged Foot too for him a little bit, which I think is pretty big.
So it did a lot of things. That's his style. His style paid big dividends at Augusta, and maybe a struggling Phil Mickelson leading at Wing Foot it didn't pay big dividends for him.
I was happy for him. And then the scene on 18 with Amy there was moving really.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions. Please wait for the mic and raise your hand.

Q. Last couple years on tour, did you have one eye on the Champions Tour and getting geared up to be competitive on this tour?
PAUL AZINGER: No, not at all. I actually maybe had one eye on golf and the other eye on the Ryder Cup, or both eyes on the Ryder Cup.
The last two years I played, I think I played six or eight events each year. Maybe nine or ten. I'm not sure, to be honest with you.
But my whole thing was to try to figure out what was wrong with America's Ryder Cup team and what needed fixing. The selection process needed fixing more than anything. That was the biggest, I think, single denominator that changed the results.
Last week the points were double at Augusta. It's not -- it's actually the money is double compared to the points. And so going off the Money List was the big significant change there.
You know, Corey's got to be really happy to see what happens. Mickelson probably locks himself up. Tiger played great, and he's nowhere to be seen in Ryder Cup standings. Anthony Kim, double the value there.
So, you know, all of a sudden the team just shaped up like that. Now you've got -- every cut that somebody makes the rest of the year, making Ryder Cup money and it's more of a one-year system.
But that was the big fix. That's what needed to be done. That's where my focus was. Once that happened, then it was about trying to create the environment. I just thought about it for two years and I didn't really much care about my own game. I kind of set it a side.
I'm suffering for it a little bit right now. I'm not super-confident and I'm not really sharp, so that's the price I paid. I wasn't looking -- or like I couldn't wait to play here. Here I am and now, I'm trying to get back into that mode a little bit.

Q. On that note, Hale Irwin was in here earlier and talked about how he played his best golf ever at age 52. Do you feel like that's possible for you?
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I don't know about ever. I mean, ever? I don't know about that.
But I think -- I mean, I told all my sponsors that this is a little bit more of a throw-away year for me here this year at age 50. I put a hard-core effort into this golf app which just released on iPhone, and I put a mega effort into this Ryder Cup book, which is coming out in May and I'm gonna book tour. So I'm gonna be distracted a little bit.

Q. What is the golf app?
PAUL AZINGER: The gold ap is Golf Plan, and it's quick-fix drills. It's not -- it was made specifically for iPhone, iPad. It's not, Look how I hit a bunker shot. This is how you I swing. This is how I hit a fade or a draw.
It's, How do you fix the 12 different ball flights that you might be struggling with. It's all drills. The drills, you know, it's right on your iPhone. The drills are video tips that are between 30 seconds and a minute. Just quick, boom.
So you hit a full slice, put three balls right here, put a ball out here, drop your right foot back, and practice like that. So it's like stuff to work on, which you rarely get.
So Apple loved it when they saw it. Apple is probably gonna promote it a little bit, too. I'm excited. I'm not gonna get mega rich off it or anything, so I realize I'm gonna have to practice eventually and try to make some money out here. (Laughing.)
I'm excited about the book, too. I can't wait for that story to come out for people to know kind of what happened and how that whole thing unfolded and how we created the environment.
It's an interesting story. It's gonna be released before Father's Day. You know, I think with the Ryder Cup starting to ramp up, people will be interested to see what happened.

Q. What is the title of the book, Paul?
PAUL AZINGER: The book a called Cracking the Code. Tagged underneath it is: The Winning Strategy For the 2008 Ryder Cup Team and How You Can Make It Work For You. It's a crossover appeal. It's a golf story with a little bit of a crossover appeal.

Q. How does it feel to have gone from being a golfer to a bit of a sage when it comes to organization or putting a team together?
PAUL AZINGER: You know, I can honestly say that I've never truly held a job in my whole life. For me to kind of carry that in any capacity is kind of funny.
But recognizing that I've never led anything in my life, I was able to recognize that as a weakness. I think one of my strengths has been knowing my weaknesses.
What I began to do is surround myself with people that had been leaders before. Once this process began, then things started to unfold and we started to create an environment for the players to be successful.
You know, the reality is the winning edge is razor thin. Vegas has a one percent edge in Blackjack, and they build monster casinos. If you play perfect Blackjack, they only have a one percent advantage. Most people don't play perfect blackjack, so their advantage can increase.
I just feel like at that level at Ryder Cup they're pretty equal. And if I could shove them to one side of winning, the right side of that edge and get the heck out of their way...
We had the best players there because selection process changed. Just got them sold on a concept and got the heck out of their way. They're great players. I told them all, I'm not here to hold your hand. I'm gonna stay out of your way. You're all big boys.
They played great. They deserve the credit, and they get the credit in in the book. The story tells how we organized those guys. Again I'll say it: Just tried to create the best environment for them and not overmanage them but just get out of their way and let them do what they do best. They're great players.
And actually, I received 3,000 books on Friday. One of the reasons I was gonna stay home is because I was gonna sign them. I have to be done by Tuesday, and I think it takes eight to ten hours to sign 3,000 books.
There will be cases and cases of books at the house. I'll take a picture of it. I actually just got on Twitter, too. I text messaged Stewart Cink that I just got on Twitter. Been following you on Twitter. Good stuff. Any chance for a shout-out? No problem.
Two days ago -- yesterday, Welcome to Twitter. Blah, blah, blah. He's got like a 1,200,000 followers. All of a sudden my phone blows up with all these people. Welcome to Twitter. So Stewart's the man.

Q. I was wondering with the winds out here, it reminds me of what happened in the Masters to Mickelson on that one hole where that piece of debris blew down on the green.
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I heard about that. Did we see that, Steve? I didn't see it.

Q. Yeah, knocked the ball off his trajectory and it was hit heading right towards the hole. Probably would have been 7 under instead of 16. How do you feel about that? Has anything ever happened to you in that respect? Do you think there should be any rule changes to accommodate that?
PAUL AZINGER: No, there's no rule change for that. It's never happened to me. The worst thing that ever happened to me is a bird took a big giant crap on my head when I was standing on the 9th green at Hartford.
Most of it -- actually, it wasn't my head. It was my hair. It hit me in the shoulder and slopped all over the green white. I thought someone threw ice cream at me, except it was a little warmer than ice cream. (Laughing.)
My mom told me that's good luck. But that's the worst thing that's ever happened to my in that respect. I was making my practice stroke getting ready to putt. The whole gallery cracked up.

Q. Paul, you've mentioned that you spent most of the last two years getting ready for the Ryder Cup and going through all of that. To come back out on the Champions Tour means a rededication. How much of a rededication? Was there a thought ever that, maybe I'll go in another direction?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, you know, yeah, there has been. At age 49 now there was -- the Ryder Cup was already over. It was over in 2008.
So last year I could have played, but I just thought I would just kind of, after 27 years of playing the tour, just relax a little bit. I played six or seven times last year. Wasn't that into it.
But I have considered going a different direction. I actually considered owing a majority share of a boat company, a manufacturing company. The economy is so bad there was no sense in that.
You know, once the book started to ramp -- and I published it myself. It's not a big publishing company that's done this. But, you know, I'm not gonna make a lot of money on that.
I realize if I want to continue to make some money I'm gonna have to play golf for a living. There are speaking opportunities periodically that come my way. I enjoy doing that.
But I don't think I'm gonna go a different direction, because quite frankly, I'm not really that good at anything else. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Paul, thank you very much.
PAUL AZINGER: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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