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Golf Great Paul Azinger on 'Hannity'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 25, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Paul Azinger is a golf superstar with 17 professional victories under his belt. As team USA's 2008 Ryder Cup captain he lead the team to its first victory over the Europeans in almost a decade. He's the author of the brand new book, "Cracking the Code: The winning Ryder Cup strategy, make it work for you".

I sat down with him earlier to discuss that and a lot more. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: It is such a great honor to meet you. How are you?

PAUL AZINGER, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Pleasure. I'm great.

HANNITY: Well, the book is really inspiring but before I get to that, I watched your career at a distance. I remember very distinctly when you got diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, it was kind of at the height of your career.

AZINGER: Yes. It was.

HANNITY: I mean there was a lot of feature stories about you at the time. When you get that diagnosis, it was in your right shoulder. You are a golfer, how tough was that for you in your life?

AZINGER: Well, it was scary. I'm just thankful it hurt. You know, cancer doesn't always hurt. And my shoulder hurt because I was playing a professional sport I was actually having it looked at and getting it treated. Dr. Frank Job (ph) who was the guy that Tommy John surgery was that one that was really concerned about it.

We did a biopsy on it and found out it was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but it was caught early. I did 6 months of chemo, 5 weeks of radiation and that has been several years ago now.

HANNITY: And thank God.

You have this improbable win in the Ryder's Cup.

AZINGER: We only had three days to prepare. You have 12 players coming from 12 different places, 12 different agendas and for three days are asked to prepare and become a team for this Ryder Cup. And I felt 12 was too big a number. We broke them into small groups and got them sold on the idea that they would be bonded together, they would settle out for each other, prepare together. The message really was there is no shortcut to success. You can't hope for it or wish for it. You have to prepare and I'm going to ask you to prepare together.

HANNITY: That's somewhat what they do with the Navy Seals; they live together, they sleep together, they learn to know what they're thinking and their patterns together, which is I think kind of inspiring because they are the elite. They are the best of the best.

So you don't have Tiger Woods playing in the Ryder Cup. This is what makes it such an improbably win. You have people that you were not expected to win this cup.

AZINGER: We had six players who had never played the Ryder Cup before. Even if Tiger was there, Europe was bringing a strong enough team that we would have been underdogs. We'd only won three times in 25 years and lost five of the last six. So, to be able to present this outside the box approach to team-building to the players was something that got them engaged right away. Mickelson and Stewart Cink and Justin Leonard and Jim Furyk; it intrigued them, the idea has intrigued them.

And Ron Braund who co-authored with me, he thought that it was best if we put them together based on their like personalities which was another aspect that the press really knew nothing about. We didn't have them fill out personality profiles but just through observation we kind of figured out who they were, communicated during the week with them according to their personality type.

Like AK, you know, I challenged AK in this story out there on the 14th hole of the matches. The book, it has crossover appeal, there are business principles here. We don't claim we cracked — or invented the code. But we may be kind of cracked the code.

HANNITY: Implemented it.

AZINGER: Implemented it. And you know, for a captain I really can't hit a shot, you know, so I had to sit back and watch. What can I do, correct what I feel is the best environment for them to be successful and get out of the way.

HANNITY: There's not a single person that I've met in my life that is successful on any level that doesn't work really hard at what they do. I just don't understand why anybody would think that anything other than hard work is going to make you successful.

AZINGER: It bothers me when I hear Tiger Woods was groomed to be a successful player —

HANNITY: Well, he kind of was.

AZINGER: Well, you know, but he worked hard. And you and I both know that. And same with Phil Mickelson. It bothers me when you say they just grew up in the game and they were entitled. A lot of people grew up in the game and never quite made it. There's an intangible that we really can't define.

But I can promise that both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods who did come from different backgrounds who were brought up in the game of golf worked really, really hard to be great.

HANNITY: As did you.

AZINGER: Oh, I worked hard.

HANNITY: How many championships you won, 14?

AZINGER: I won 12 on the tour, a couple in Europe. I won a major PGA championship and I'm kind of the anti-model in some respects, more of a blue collar kind of player. I couldn't break any two days in a row when I went to college. I worked hard. I worked harder than anybody else on my golf teams, I know that.

In the end I was fortunate enough to be successful.

HANNITY: I would be negligent if I didn't ask you about Tiger not as it relates to the Ryder Cup; he was sick that year when you won. You see all this news, trying to make it back into golf, seems like he's struggling a little bit. Obviously his personal life he's struggling a lot. What do you think?

AZINGER: Well, I know Tiger and Elin. I feel bad for both of them. But you know, it was just a shock to all of us. Some people have indicted us all by saying that we knew this was going on. I don't think anybody really knew what was going on.

Tiger is going to probably have to rewrite his constitution a bit and figure out who the real Tiger is. He's dealing with an emotion that is the worst kind of human emotion you have to deal with and that's shame. He's going to have deal with that on a giant stage.

Someone asked me, Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press asked a bunch of us who was the second most famous athlete in the world? And we — five of us came up with five different answers to show you the gap between Tiger Woods and the next guy.

HANNITY: Did you reach out to him? Did you try talking with him?

AZINGER: No. It would have been. You know, he was untouchable. Nobody could get out to Tiger. But, you know, he's only 34-years-old. I think he will eventually get things right and Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry had their best years in their 40s and I still expect Tiger to break every record that has ever been set except for Byron Nelson's record maybe.

HANNITY: Do you think the public eventually forgives, forgets — he has a chance at redemption? You think so?

AZINGER: I think so. Absolutely. He has to handle himself right. I think he just wants to make sure he's the real — you know, let's see the real Tiger Woods and you know —

HANNITY: Last question. Is there any hope, because I stink at golf? There's no hope.

AZINGER: There's always hope. Golfplan will help you. That's Golfplan the iPhone app.

HANNITY: The iPhone.

Go to PaulAzinger.com and "Cracking the Code" is a great book. I enjoyed it.

Thank you for your time. Good to see you. Thank you and congrats on the book.

AZINGER: Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

— Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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