Paul Azinger airs NBC dirty laundry in explosive interview | Hot Mic

paul azinger and dan hicks smile at NBC booth in suits

Paul Azinger's first interview since leaving NBC — a conversation with Golfweek — set the golf world ablaze.

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As perhaps you heard, Paul Azinger went on the record with Golfweek’s Adam Schupak with a blistering response to the end of his tenure with NBC. Below is an extended sampling on Azinger from Monday evening’s iteration of the Hot Mic Newsletter. (To receive exclusive golf media updates like this one from me, James Colgan, click the link here or the tab below to subscribe.)


Azinger broke his post-NBC silence in a big way over the weekend. Speaking for the first time since his sudden exit from the network in December, the former NBC lead analyst let it rip on a handful of big-time topics in golf and golf media. Among the highlights: 

  • Calling NBC Sports head of production Sam Flood a “real a-hole” for his handling of Azinger’s departure.
  • Criticizing NBC’s repeated cost-cutting measures and apparent efforts at censoring him (apparently being a questionable comment he repeated, for the record, about legendary boxing promoter Don King).
  • Blasting the PGA Tour product as a “qualifier” for LIV.
  • Advocating for his apparently cash-strapped former employer to hire Charles Barkley as his successor (???).


The most surprising reveal from Azinger came regarding his NBC departure. The former lead analyst shared that NBC had actually engaged with Azinger about signing him to a contract extension, even going as far as to offer him a new deal matching the financials of his existing one. According to Azinger, things fell apart after he and his agent attempted to negotiate a counteroffer. NBC didn’t take kindly to the counter … and walked away from the table. Yeesh!


Azinger’s assertion that the Tour has become “a qualifier” for LIV was extra spicy.

“The best players aren’t all playing PGA Tour tournaments. That’s over,” he said. “Let’s just say it like this: the PGA Tour has fast become the qualifier for LIV and it’s a sad day for golf.”

Was it a true sentiment? Ehrm … not really. But it was revealing to hear Azinger’s perspective on golf’s tour wars (however jaded they may be) after two years without a LIV whisper in the NBC booth.

Say what you will about ‘Zinger — if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that he’ll never let the facts get in the way of a good story. (Don’t we all?!)


Reading his Golfweek interview, it was hard not to see the irony in Azinger’s sudden affinity for lightning rod status: Had he been as pointed or entertaining during his tenure in the NBC booth, a contract extension would have been the least of his issues. Part of the reason the network decided to move on was that he’d spent the better part of his tenure with NBC without any real memorable moments or calls.

In some ways, this version of Azinger was the one NBC thought it was signing back in 2018. But no such luck!


The interview left Azinger, his former professional tour and his former network employer looking pretty terrible. But we appreciate ‘Zinger’s candor and earnestness.

These are the sort of details that rarely leak out about talent negotiations at big sports networks, and while some of Azinger’s allegations were surely tinged with anger, some (about NBC’s resource allocation, for example) certainly seem to have a hint of truth.

And hey, there’s something to be said for dousing the bridge with a flamethrower on your way out. 

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