ORLANDO, Fla -- It's awfully easy to praise Fox Sports for hiring Paul Azinger to replace Greg Norman as its lead golf analyst. Azinger was the obvious choice and the known proven quantity among the many candidates out there.
There was such a gap, really, that there was no clear-cut second choice.
So kudos to Fox for getting it right. Azinger will be in the 18th hole tower with Joe Buck and Brad Faxon. The latter two reportedly will split duties as hosts, with one guy taking the odd-numbered holes and the other getting the even-numbered holes, and Azinger providing color on all the holes.
That’s an interesting approach and a way to get more voices into the broadcast and who knows, Fox may tweak that long before the Open comes to Oakmont this summer.
Great Tweet by golfer-broadcaster and former Flounder (of Jake Trout and the Flounders) Mark Lye: “I guess Faxon gets the last laugh since NBC let him go. They lost Faxon AND the USGA package… go Fox.”
Speaking of Oakmont: Here’s some video of the Hulton Bridge, which was the main route over the river to get to Oakmont… until Tuesday.
On to the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Hey Van Cynical, Bubba's six tour wins plus two majors is better than Day or Fowler. Why isn't he part of the discussion for Big 3 or Big Four?—RhombusMike via Twitter
Because he’s wildly inconsistent, he’s a late bloomer who’s on the back nine of his career and he didn’t challenge the heroics of Spieth and Day last season and since the world’s attention span is about five minutes. It’s good to point out that Bubba contends a lot on tour—doesn’t win them all but he’s in the mix a lot.
Custom Vans, I would rather see pros in shorts even Thursday to Sunday than see swamp-butt in Memphis in the summer.—David Troyan via Twitter
I dunno, Ol’ Swamp Butt still owes me $20 from that emergency nine at Seminole last spring. Or are you talking about actual sweaty golfers in Memphis, Siegfeld & Troy?
Sicklevator, With three California tour stops played on multiple courses, do players mind having to adjust to different courses?—David Troyan via Twitter
Yeah, they’re pissed as hell having to play for a crummy $5 or $6 million a week. With pro-ams. It totally sucks. Nah, Troy Box, it puts newer players at a course-knowledge disadvantage but of all the things to whine about, I haven’t heard anyone whine about the numbers, just a few of the tracks they might not love.
Hey Van Cynical, I’m a Rickie Fowler fan though I won’t be donning high-tops and capris. Think he wins in Abu Dhabi if he’s paired with Rory McIlroy (the last two rounds)? Rory stomped him @ RC.—Tad Lehmann via Twitter
Rick’s game has bumped up to the top level now, Big Tad Wolf, I don’t think playing with Rory would faze him now, like perhaps it would have two years ago. I’m looking for big things from him this year.
Van Shankometer, On slow play, it would be even better if they forced waiting groups to play through the slow groups.—Bill Sawyer via Twitter
Yeah, like they were a bunch of American tourist chops who got pulled over on the fourth hole at Muirfield to let some fast-playing members through. That’d be sweet, Mr. Bill.