Paul Azinger helps present awards at weekend match play tournament

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 4:38 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Tournament play is underway for our local high school golf teams on the Suncoast.

One of those happening over the weekend with a match play championship tournament at the Founders Golf Club of Sarasota.

The Lakewood Ranch Boys, and both the girls and boys teams at Cardinal Mooney victorious over the weekend at this match play tournament.

It’s not uncommon because these are usually some of the best teams in the area. However, there was a special guest in attendance, Suncoast native and professional golfer, Paul Azinger.

Azinger helped present awards to the winning teams. Many were standing and cheering as he made way to the podium.

He’s no stranger to hearing applause , but they mean a lot more hearing them here on the Suncoast.

“It’s kind of nice to see these high school guys out here,” Azinger said. “These are the best in our county and it was great see these guys butting heads, especially in match play.”

Azinger is a 12 time PGA tour winner including the 1993 PGA Championship. His incredible talents were first noticed in the 1970s as a player at Sarasota High School, but it wasn’t always easy.

“I really wasn’t good enough to break 80 two days in a row,” Azinger said. “So, I came a long way. I wasn’t like these players today. These are all really good players and I think more than anything I realized I had to work hard if i ever wanted to play golf competitively.”

Azinger tells ABC7 he’s happy to see how high school golf is growing, and that it’s truly amazing for him to now give back to his community.

“It’s a big deal to come out here and hang with these guys,” Azinger said. “I’m just excited that high school golf’s alive and kicking. I just think we’re all pretty lucky to live in Sarasota County, Manatee County. We’re in one of the most beautiful places on Earth and it’s a lot of great golf around here.”