With Greg Norman now out as Fox Sports' lead golf analyst, the conversation pivots to wondering who will replace the two-time major champion in the 18th tower of the network's golf coverage, particularly for the U.S. Open.
Were Fox to decide to promote someone already of their team to join Joe Buck, they'd likely go with Brad Faxon. Faxon was a part of the team for the 2015 U.S. Open and has a reasonable amount of broadcast experience. He's chatty and fairly opinionated.
Fox tried bringing Faxon in as a third person in the 18th booth for the network's coverage of the Franklin Templeton Shootout in December, perhaps in hopes of getting more from Norman or maybe as a test to see if Faxon could carry a telecast. Faxon lacks cache because he doesn't have a major championship and hasn't built a profile in the booth that would draw in viewers. However, given time, Faxon could do well.
If Fox chooses to make a splashy hire to replace Norman, then there's really only one choice: Paul Azinger.
Azinger has been calling golf for the Disney family, both ABC and ESPN, for over a decade. However, ESPN's involvement with the sport has dwindled, losing the Open Championship broadcast rights to NBC Sports Group. That has left Azinger without a regular gig. His voice deserves to be heard, and, by joining Fox, Azinger would be paired again with Fox's lead producer Mark Loomis, who was with Azinger at ABC when the trio of Azinger, Nick Faldo and Mike Tirico livened up the network's PGA Tour coverage.
Of course, there are other options out there, and, frankly, they're not very compelling.
Perhaps the most obvious alternative is Curtis Strange, who worked with Azinger at ABC/ESPN. However, Strange was not especially loved in the lead analyst capacity at the Alphabet.
Rocco Mediate would be interesting, but he's not done on the Champions Tour.
Corey Pavin is on the Fox team, but he was handed a headset at Chambers Bay and told to call holes. He must not be seen as a lead analyst.
Here's a flier that may be awful but may be brilliant: Hale Irwin. Irwin, winding down his playing days after dominating the Champions Tour, is a three-time U.S. Open winner and does not sugar-coat many things. At 70 years old, Irwin isn't going to be afraid of upsetting anyone playing in the event. However, at this stage in his life, Irwin probably isn't all that interested in heading into the booth.
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