Playing without his usual confidence since a final-hole bogey cost him a win at Doral last March, Azinger has struggled with his swing of late. Two weeks ago in Phoenix, he showed his duck hook to teaching pro Jim Flick, who quickly got him back on track. "I didn't hit any irons badly off line the whole tournament," Azinger said Sunday.
With the survivors of the 54-hole cut united for the final round at Pebble, Azinger cast off his worries and went for some flags. He trailed Mediate by two strokes at the outset, but he eagled No. 2—his three-wood shot went around a tree, over a trap and stopped nine feet short of the hole—and sank a 45-foot putt for birdie on No. 4. Just as important were par-saving putts from 15 feet on 9 and 12. "It's taken me years to learn how to putt here," said Azinger afterward. "It's my favorite course in the world, but I've always been confused on the greens, uncertain how much the ocean will pull the ball."
At the finish, Azinger played three careful irons to the 18th green. Two putts gave him his third 67 of the tournament and a 274 total, four shots better than the scores of Corey Pavin and Brian Claar, neither of whom ever threatened.
Later Azinger, whose best previous Pro-Am finish was a tie for 22nd in 1988, shook his head and said, "Every year I swear I'll never play here again, I play so poorly. But how can you not come back? It's so very, very beautiful here."
If you can avoid the chaos.