United States team captain Paul Azinger waves to spectators while...

United States team captain Paul Azinger waves to spectators while speaking at the Ryder Cup opening ceremonies at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 18, 2008. Paul Azinger will no longer be the lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, ending his five years with the network at the Ryder Cup without even knowing that was his last event. Credit: AP/Chris O'Meara

Nothing ramps up speculation in golf like an opening in the broadcast booth.

Paul Azinger and NBC Sports failed to reach an agreement on a new contract for the lead analyst. Those close to Azinger said he had planned on working one more year, but NBC has been in a cost-cutting mode and negotiations didn't get very far.

That explains why Azinger said he was surprised and disappointed.

NBC has two golf events left this year, the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas — marking the return of Tiger Woods — and the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, where Woods is likely to be playing with his son.

So who's next? NBC has had two lead analysts — Johnny Miller and Azinger — since 1990.

Justin Leonard had been working for NBC until he returned to playing on the PGA Tour Champions this year. Reached at home Monday night, Leonard had no insight on NBC's plans and said only, “I'm enjoying my playing gig.”

David Duval also played extensively on the PGA Tour Champions after his work at NBC Golf Channel where he delivered cerebral commentary. He was at a resort not far from Denver with his wife and didn't know Azinger wasn't returning until a day after the announcement.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with his Race to...

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with his Race to Dubai trophy after the final round of the DP World Tour Championship golf tournament, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. Credit: AP/Kamran Jebreili

“Would I listen? Of course,” Duval said Monday night when asked if he had interest. “But no one has reached out.”

Otherwise, names are being kicked around from Brad Faxon to Brandel Chamblee, whose work has been exclusively on shows before and after tournament rounds. Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, one of golf's most insightful players, and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley of Ireland also come to mind.

NBC also recently let go of Brandt Packer, a producer for 11 years with versality of working PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, college and other prominent amateur events.

“It was not my decision,” Packer said. “I would have loved to be back with them.”

Rose Zhang of the United States watches her shot on...

Rose Zhang of the United States watches her shot on the fairway on the second hole during the third round of the LPGA Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. Credit: AP/Vincent Thian

NBC has not commented on its cuts except to thank Azinger for his work and wish him well.

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