Poulter leads backlash against Azinger after European Tour remarks

US commentator said Tommy Fleetwood had to ‘win on the PGA Tour’ to prove himself

Ian Poulter has responded to Paul Azinger’s comments after the American suggested Tommy Fleetwood needed to win on the PGA Tour to prove himself. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty

Ian Poulter has responded to Paul Azinger’s comments after the American suggested Tommy Fleetwood needed to win on the PGA Tour to prove himself. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty

 

Ian Poulter has led a backlash against comments made by Paul Azinger, accusing the US TV commentator of showing “disrespect” by disparaging the European Tour.

Azinger, the victorious US Ryder Cup captain in 2008, was working as NBC’s lead golf analyst at the Honda Classic when he said the English golfer Tommy Fleetwood was under pressure to prove himself by earning his first victory on the PGA Tour.

During commentary Azinger, who also won the PGA Championship in 1993, said: “There is a lot of pressure here [on Fleetwood]. You know you are trying to prove to everybody you’ve got what it takes. These guys know, you can win all you want on the European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour.

“[Lee] Westwood took offence to that when I asked about that. He said he’s won 44 times all over the world. But it’s not the PGA Tour. They know that, and I think Tommy knows that and it’s put a little pressure on Tommy.”

Poulter, whose stellar record in the Ryder Cup reads 14 wins, six defeats and two halves, was one of a number of European golfers and caddies who called Azinger to account on social media.

Poulter wrote on Twitter: “I like @PaulAzinger a lot. And get on with him great. But Paul please do not condescend or disrespect the @EuropeanTour and our players like that.

‘We have slapped your arse in Ryder Cup for so long. I know you captained a win but seriously that was embarrassing today.”

The Spanish golfer Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño said: “Is that the same Azinger who last year called Molinari’s putt at Bay Hill’s 18th ‘the most important putt of his career’ months after he just won the Open?”

Francesco Molinari’s caddy, Mark Fulcher, added: “Not @TommyFleetwood1’s day. But as ever, a class reaction. Please take notice Mr Azinger. Better times ahead for this ‘non pga tour winner’. Humble pie soon with extra custard.”

Fleetwood has won five times on the European Tour and with Francesco Molinari became the first pair to win all four of their matches at the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Europe have won four of the past five Ryder Cups.

Fleetwood finished third behind Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and the winner Im Sung-jae at the Honda Classic. - Guardian

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