On this day in 2006: Paul Azinger named 2008 United States Ryder Cup captain

By PA Sport Staff
·1-min read

Paul Azinger was named United States Ryder Cup captain on this day in 2006 for the 2008 biennial event at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky.

Azinger faced a difficult task as captain, following their record-equalling defeat in Ireland in 2006 under previous captain Tom Lehman, their third successive Ryder Cup defeat.

Upon his appointment, America’s previous success was a comeback victory at Brookline in 1999.

Azinger speaks with former boxer Muhammad Ali during practice at Valhalla
Azinger speaks with former boxer Muhammad Ali during practice at Valhalla (Nick Potts/PA)

Azinger won the 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness and had competed at four previous Ryder Cups, including the winning 1991 and 1993 US teams.

He suffered cancer in his shoulder following his most successful season in 1993 but fought back to secure a PGA Tour title in Hawaii seven years later.

Speaking at the time of his appointment, Azinger said, reported by the BBC: “It’s the greatest honour you can bestow on a professional golfer.”

Azinger, centre, celebrates the victory at Valhalla
Azinger, centre, celebrates the victory (Rui Vieira/PA)

At the 2008 Ryder Cup, the United States secured their first victory since 1999 with a 16.5-11.5 success over Europe.

The win was secured with four matches left on the course despite America being without world number one Tiger Woods through injury.

Azinger also changed the qualifying system for the tournament, having four wild card picks instead of two, and delayed his final team selection to allow players to find form.