Azinger played poker after dad's surgery postponed

Updated: August 9, 2006, 5:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Paul Azinger was among several celebrities/athletes competing at the World Series of Poker. The hitch: He also was supposed to be competing at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.

According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Azinger, also a golf analyst for ABC, told alternate Dicky Pride that he was withdrawing from the U.S. Bank Championship two weeks ago because his father "was to undergo surgery." However, he played in the World Series of Poker that same weekend.

PGA Tour policy "requires a player who withdraws from a tournament after the commitment deadline" -- 5 p.m. ET the Friday before the tournament -- "provide in writing the reason for the withdrawal" or be subject to disciplinary action.

Reached by Golf World, Azinger says the withdrawal was because he learned his father had taken ill and needed surgery. But the surgery was postponed, and since Azinger couldn't return to Milwaukee, he headed for the tables -- with Dad's blessing.

PGA Tour senior vice president and COO Henry Hughes told the Journal Sentinel that if a player were to withdraw after the deadline, "it's considered something we look strongly at and we make sure it doesn't happen unless there is an explanation. ... We try and protect out tournaments that way. The player has two weeks to respond as to why they had an improper withdrawal or late withdrawal. We have not heard from Paul yet."

He also told the Journal Sentinel that withdrawing from a tournament "to play in a poker tournament would be viewed as improper."

At last weekend's Buick Open, which Azinger played in, he was asked if he would have withdrawn from that event as well if he hadn't been eliminated from the World Series of Poker.

"For a shot at $11.8 [million]? You're darn right I would have dropped out," he said at the time.

Azinger eventually went out in Vegas after 14 hours.

Additional wire reports were used in this story.