Waiting to replace a legend was like ‘a root canal’ for Paul Azinger

World

NBC Sports’ Paul Azinger talks with The Post’s Justin Terranova about his first month back in the booth, the pressure of replacing Johnny Miller and Tiger Woods’ future.

Q: Any concern about Woods’ neck injury?

A: It didn’t turn out to be much from what he said, but he’s only going to get a finite number of tournaments in his career and that number is getting small. Every time the neck keeps him out of Bay Hill, or wherever, it’s a great loss for everyone that loves golf. That’s the No. 1 interest and I just hate it for him that his body is like a ticking time bomb almost.

Q: How has the first month at NBC gone?

A: I am not fully relaxed yet. I am just trying to be myself and I think I just want to tell it like it as and I see it. I am enjoying it. These guys are professional and perfectionist. … I am just having a good time. It’s good to get to know the players a little bit, and all in all I think the transition has been fairly easy for me.

Q: What has it been like replacing Miller?

A: That buildup was a substantial wait. It was like going to get a root canal, but you have to wait three months to get it. Watching Johnny’s tribute made me so nervous, but it gave me a good way to start, which was, “after seeing that tribute I wanted to talk him into staying.” That relaxed me. I am not Johnny. I can’t be Johnny. I don’t know how to do that. I just know how to do what I do and it’s way different than Johnny. You’re either going to get used to it or you are not. I am going to be very candid about what I am seeing and how I feel. You want to let the picture be descriptive and also be informative.

Q: What has surprised you being out on tour most weeks now?

A: Watching them hit on the range kind of blew me away. I’ve had my six or seven years off of not really watching golf or being on the course except for once, twice a year (as Fox’s U.S. Open analyst). When I got on the range in Mexico City, I couldn’t believe how high and hard they hit it. It’s just a different game.

Q: Do you like that the Players Championship is back in March?

A: This golf course (TPC Sawgrass) was built with March in mind. It can be cold and blustery. If you get a nice normal March wind it comes from the northwest and that means 17 will play into the wind. I just hope we get one day — one day! — where the players have to hit six or seven irons into that green.

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