Azinger isn't lobbying, but is intrigued by thought of returning
Paul Azinger's last victory on the PGA Tour came in 2000, and until he took on the captaincy of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, he kept a pretty low profile.
I loved that role as captain. I think my handprint is on the Ryder Cup for a long time. The selection process worked. The team-building concept, breaking the team into small groups ... it's stuff that's never been done, I'm sure. They sold out for me in this concept and bonded in small groups ... I think it would work again. I believe in it.
"Zinger gave us a great model for success,'' Phil Mickelson said in a conference call Wednesday. "Rather than stray from it, I think it would be a great idea to have him return. But I don't want to interfere with the PGA of America and their decision-making process because the captaincy has always been a wonderful way to validate a player's career. It's such an honor and a highlight, so I don't want to detract from the PGA's process. But I thought Paul's model for success was a great one.''
PGA of America officials have said they are in no hurry to make a decision on naming a captain, as they are still enjoying the Valhalla victory. And, if the current process remains in place, no points can be earned for the 2010 team until the Masters in April.The U.S. has not had back-to-back captains since Ben Hogan in 1947-49. Jack Nicklaus was the last to captain more than one team, doing so in 1983 and 1987. But the PGA of America does not have a lot of options, either. Corey Pavin, 49, a 15-time tour winner including the 1995 U.S. Open, is the most likely successor to Azinger. Pavin played on three Ryder Cup teams, interviewed for the 2006 captaincy and served as an assistant to Tom Lehman that year. Others who have been mentioned include Fred Couples and Davis Love, but Couples is out of the running for 2010 because he is the U.S. Presidents Cup captain next year. Love, 44, who is coming off his 20th career victory at the Children's Miracle Network Classic, said he wants to try to play on the 2010 team, with his eye on the captaincy down the road. In the aftermath of the Ryder Cup victory back in September, Azinger dismissed the notion of returning, even while his players chanted "Zinger in '10, Zinger in '10." But a couple of months of letting it soak in, with no apparent rush to name a new captain, at least have him weighing the idea of continuing. "I just want to make sure it's understood that I'm not lobbying to get this," Azinger said. "There are basically two scenarios, and it's very intriguing to have one be me. But I support them whatever they decide." Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.