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Paul Azinger back to being a rookie on the Champions Tour

Golf is the only sport where you get two chances to be a young phenom. First, you bust onto the scene as a teenager and blast the ball all over the course. Then the game grinds you down until you’re just another one of the pack. But once you get to within sight of 50, you start to rejoice, because there’s a new chance to be a heralded rookie.

The Champions Tour may not have the flash and dazzle of the PGA Tour, but every year, it’s getting a new crop of recognizable names, names who still have the game to push around their elders.mp600

This weekend, Paul Azinger joins the Champions Tour at the ACE Group Classic at The Quarry in Naples, Fla., just a few weeks after turning the Champions-minimum 50. Azinger is poised to ride nearly as high as he’s ever been; he’s got the talent and the drive to succeed on the Champions Tour, and he’s still basking in the glow of the 2008 Ryder Cup triumph. (Matter of fact, he’s got a book coming out in May on that very subject.)

-A month or two ago, I wasn’t even excited about playing,- he said late last year. -I think I can be competitive. Let’s say a couple of months ago, I didn’t think I could be competitive, nor did I know if I wanted to be competitive. I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. You’ve got to be single-minded to be successful as a player.- Still, the prospect of romping once again was too enticing to ignore: -I’m starting to make good progress and seeing the potential. I’ve had a few guys call me and say -Hey, you’re turning 50, it’s going to be great.’ -k15????

While Azinger hasn’t exactly lit up the leaderboard of late – he’s only made the cut in 10 of the 30 events he’s played in over the last three years – he’s certainly capable of playing well enough to throw a scare into an over-50 field.

Besides, these cats have to get their wins while they can; Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh are lurking just over the horizon.

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