After Azinger complained about his performance at the Houston Open last year, his wife, Toni, told him to stop whining. He wasn't practicing enough to complain. That hurt, but she was right, and he knew it. "I had wanted the results but didn't put forth the effort," Azinger says. "I was going through the motions. I wouldn't listen to my coach. I had fundamental flaws in my swing and lacked the commitment to correct them."
When Azinger heard a TV interview during Masters week in which Tom Watson discussed losing his focus, Azinger thought, That was me. Last fall he recommitted himself to the game. As for the Masters, he had already decided to approach the course as if it were a puzzle and he needed to make the pieces fit. Azinger arrived early for the tournament in 1995, last year and again this year. sometimes playing with members and always absorbing any information he could get from the club's caddies. "I've gotten to know the course and enjoy it," he says. "It took me longer than most people. I'm glad now that I can appreciate it. Look at Lee Trevino—he still hates the course. My attitude has changed."
Only the results haven't. Paired with Tiger Woods in the second round, Azinger shot a 73 that could've been worse if he hadn't holed a number of gamey second putts. Things got worse on Saturday, when he flamed out, bogeying the first hole and doubling the seventh en route to a 77 that made Sunday's 74 irrelevant. Azinger finished 28th, 23 shots behind Woods. "I hit it great—and I'm five over," he said. " Augusta wins again."
A few months ago, after his agent asked him if he planned to play the Senior tour, Azinger said no. "Three days later I called back and said I would," Azinger says. "It was a pretty deep question, and it made me realize I'm in this for the long haul. I've tried to develop more of a long-term attitude toward my comeback."
You've probably seen the TV commercial that includes the Azinger highlight reel—the bunker shot to win the 1993 Memorial, the PGA victory—and the hairless, postchemo Azinger. Narrating, Azinger says in a steely voice, "This is my comeback. I will not come up short."
Then the commercial ends. The comeback, however, continues.