Paul Azinger to Make Debut as NBC Sports' Lead Golf Analyst
Following the retirement of Johnny Miller earlier this month, Paul Azinger will step into the broadcast booth this week at the WGC-Mexico Championship to make his official debut as NBC Sports' lead golf analyst. Beginning Thursday, Golf Channel and NBC will kick off seven consecutive weeks of exclusive PGA TOUR coverage with nine total events, highlighted by THE PLAYERS Championship returning to March as part of the revamped Florida swing.
"There's nothing like the challenge that the Florida Swing presents, with incredibly strong fields on phenomenal golf courses," said Azinger. "The different types of Bermuda, THE MARCH winds and some overseed will be a big adjustment from the cold, wet weather on the West Coast these past few weeks. It'll be a beautiful stretch of golf, and I'm looking forward to seeing it all play out."
AZINGER JOINS HICKS IN THE BROADCAST BOOTH
Thursday's opening round coverage at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Golf Channel will feature the debut of Paul Azinger's first full event in the broadcast booth as NBC Sports' lead golf analyst. Azinger's schedule will regularly include all four days of tournament coverage, and he'll contribute to the network's coverage each of the next six weeks. Azinger joins a broadcast team that features the deepest bench of golf voices in television, with more than 300 professional victories worldwide, including 18 major championships and including four World Golf Hall of Fame members.
At the WGC-Mexico Championship, Dan Hicks will join Azinger in the booth for all four rounds of coverage, where they'll rotate with Steve Sands and Frank Nobilo. Notah Begay, David Feherty, Gary Koch, Todd Lewis, Jim "Bones" Mackay and Roger Maltbie also will be part of the broadcast team in Mexico.
At the Puerto Rico Open this week, Vince Cellini will make his debut as play-by-play host for GOLF Channel's four-round live tournament coverage, where he'll be joined by Curt Byrum, Kay Cockerill, Justin Leonard and Craig Perks.
NINE PGA TOUR EVENTS OVER NEXT SEVEN WEEKS ACROSS NBC SPORTS
GOLF Channel and NBC will combine to present more than 175 live tournament hours from nine PGA TOUR events during the next seven weeks, beginning with the opening rounds of WGC-Mexico Championship and the Puerto Rico Open on Thursday. The PGA TOUR then will move to Florida for four weeks as part of its revamped Florida Swing: The Honda Classic (Feb. 28-March 3), Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (March 7-10), THE PLAYERS Championship (March 14-17) and the Valspar Championship (March 21-24). Texas will wrap up the seven-week swing, with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (March 27-31) and the Valero Texas Open (April 4-7). The PGA TOUR also will stage the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic opposite the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (March 28-31).
TOPTRACER HEADLINES NBC SPORTS' PRODUCTION ENHANCEMENTS
Through a new multi-year partnership with Topgolf, Golf Channel and NBC Sports' PGA TOUR telecasts in 2019 are equipped with expanded use of Toptracer ball-tracking technology, with the capability to utilize Toptracer on all 18 holes. Toptracer will be featured during tee shots either via live video or via NBC Virtual Follow, which is a live trace over a graphic representation of the hole. Toptracer also will be featured on fairway shots via two radio frequency (RF) cameras that can travel anywhere on the course.
Toptracer technology tracks the flight of a golf ball within a camera feed, in addition to real-time 3D ball flight data analytics such as ball speed, apex, curve and carry that is integrated into virtual graphics.
PGA TOUR LIVE ON NBC SPORTS GOLD
PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR's over-the-top subscription service on NBC Sports Gold that complements traditional television coverage, will feature live coverage of select featured groups and featured holes from seven of the nine PGA TOUR events over the next seven weeks, beginning Thursday with the WGC-Mexico Championship. In January, PGA TOUR LIVE launched on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports Group's direct-to-consumer live streaming product, and will feature live four-day coverage from 28 PGA TOUR events in 2019.