Paul Azinger Criticised Over European Tour Comments

The American seemed to dismiss Tommy Fleetwood's five European Tour wins by saying that "you have to win on the PGA Tour"

Paul Azinger Criticised Over European Tour Comments
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The American seemed to dismiss Tommy Fleetwood's five European Tour wins by saying that "you have to win on the PGA Tour"

Paul Azinger Criticised Over European Tour Comments

Tommy Fleetwood was in contention to win his maiden PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic when Paul Azinger dropped a clanger in making some fairly derogatory comments about the European Tour.

The US TV announcer, who won 12 PGA Tour titles including the 1993 USPGA Championship, was speaking about the pressure Fleetwood would be playing under whilst trying to win on the PGA Tour for the first time.

Fleetwood has won five European Tour titles including a Rolex Series event, with his victories coming in tournaments featuring the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and, basically, the best players in the world.

He also scored four points for Team Europe in his Ryder Cup debut in 2018 where Europe beat the USA 17.5-10.5 at Le Golf National.

However, Azinger referred to the European Tour as 'that European Tour" and stated that "you have to win on the PGA Tour."

"A lot of pressure you know, you're trying to prove to everybody you've got what it takes and these guys know you can win all you want on that European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour," he said.

For context, three of Fleetwood's European Tour victories actually had stronger fields, via the Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field calculations, than the Honda Classic.

As if that wasn't bad enough, he then took a slight at Lee Westwood's 44 worldwide wins due to the fact that he has only won twice on the PGA Tour, before making an awkward comparison with five-time PGA Tour winner Mark Wilson.

"Westwood took offence to that actually yesterday when asked about that," he said.

"Two wins on the PGA Tour but he's like 'oh I've won 44 times all over the world' but it's not the PGA Tour though.

"And they know that and I think Tommy knows that. It puts a little pressure on Tommy but this is where they want to be isn't it?

"They want to come here, they want to prove that they can win at this level.

"And if you prove it on this golf course, I mean even some of the obscure names that have won here on the Tour, when you know a guy won here you think about a guy Mark Wilson or somebody it's like man, Mark Wilson won at PGA National."

Watch the clip of Azinger's comments below:

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For context on this, Mark Wilson, a quality player, reached a career-high 24th in the world, won five PGA Tour titles and and over $15m in the States.

He never played in the Ryder Cup.

Compare that to Westwood who has spent 22 weeks as World No.1, won 44 times across five continents, played in 10 Ryder Cups and won $19.7m on the PGA Tour and €37.5m on the European Tour.

You can see why social media and some professionals were in outrage after Azinger's comments.

The video was circulating on social media, with Westwood simply responding "Oh dear, oh dear."

He later tweeted, "I think Paul sometimes thinks he has to be controversial to be relevant.

"It’s a little disappointing that Dan sits there and looks to be agreeing and then doesn’t question his comments.

"@PGATOUR is a great tour but in the current golfing climate we shouldn’t be creating divides."

Ian Poulter was another to not take kindly to Azinger's comments.

"I like @PaulAzinger a lot. And get on with him great." Poulter tweeted.

"But Paul please do not condescend or disrespect the @EuropeanTour and our players like that.

"We have slapped your arse in Ryder Cup for so long.

"I know you captained a win but seriously that was embarrassing today."

Thomas Bjorn wrote, "It was so easy for Paul Azinger to say that Tommy Fleetwood has won around the world and is a world class player.

"Now the time has come for him to prove that on the strongest tour in the world.

"He was at best ignorant, at worst arrogant in delivering that. Bring on September!"

Watch the clip of Azinger's comments below:

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5