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Feherty on the Hyundai Tournament of Champion, his craft, drive-by fruitings

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I had the opportunity to catch up with the singular entity that is David Feherty by phone.

Feherty told me he was lying on the floor of the media center at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions trying to stretch his back out. He said his airline had wronged him. I asked him what they’d done.

Our conversation is below.

D.F.: It was just their seats…I’m in the sharp end of the airplane and I can’t get comfortable…

B.A.: That doesn’t seem right, does it?

It’s an outrage.

We’ll have to file a complaint. I’m sorry to hear that.

Tell me a bit about the campaign I hear you’re working on and how you became a pitchman in the first place?

I’ve just completed a set of three commercials we shot in Los Angeles for Hyundai, and it was a lot of fun to shoot them. I enjoy doing that kind of thing.

The real revelation for me was getting into the car and driving it. I drove a Hyundai ten years ago. The changes are unbelievable. Coincidentally, the car service I use to get to the airport in Dallas has just changed their fleet from Town Cars to the Hyundai Eqqus. The first time I got into one, I thought I’d been kidnapped by the cartel. I could have sworn it was a Mercedes or a high-end import.

They’re making these cars in Montgomery, Alabama. They’ve invested a huge amount in this country. They’re employing Americans, and it means a great deal to me.

Did you ever see yourself as a pitchman? I know you did the work with Bridgestone in the past.

To be honest with you, I didn’t see myself alive at 56. No, I didn’t see any of this. I didn’t see the T.V. show coming. I tell my four children—my four boys and one little girl—work hard, stay in school, and don’t do drugs. And the more observant of them say, “Dad, you didn’t do any of that.”

So, it’s all unexpected then…

It really is. You know, I can’t believe I came to this country kicking and screaming. I didn’t really want to be here. Within a few months it became very apparent that it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I’m very proud of being an American and very upset when anyone apologizes for being such a wonderful thing.

Absolutely. Absolutely. I guess then that you didn’t plot the course to being one of best on-course commentators in the game. I think that’s such a unique kind of skill set. It’s a real balancing act. I’ve seen you out there on the fairway. You have to be aware of what’s going on on the course and additionally what’s going on in the telecast. The essence of that craft escapes me. What do you think the key component is? 

Well, I think it’s kind of walking the line between maintaining a relationship with the player and being able to tell the truth. And as you say, having a sense of what’s going on in the telecast.

Quite often, when a producer throws it to the 15th hole, and I’m on the 15th hole with the leaders, I have to know whether he’s showing the second shot or them putting on the green live. We’ll play things plausibly live when it doesn’t make any sense to say “a moment ago.” And there’s sort of a voodoo aspect to it that only the walkers, you know, the guys on the ground, have to get a command of.

I love to be on the ground because I never really felt like a commentator. In between shots and in commercial breaks, I still feel like a player.

One reform I’ve campaigned for is to have an umbrella mic  out there to pick up snippets of conversation between me and the players, just to give the show a little more relevance and make the players seem a little more human. I think that’d be a major boost for any telecast…and not just with me, with anyone that’s out there.

Right. You’d certainly add a human element to all of that.

You’re going to be out there this week. What do you think the key to winning at Kapalua is and who do you like?

Well, it’s a very difficult tournament to pick a winner, I’ll be honest with you. Last year, many of these winners were first-time. Jimmy Walker has got off to a fantastic start the last couple of seasons. There’s so many good, very young players out here at the Plantation Course.

The Hyundai Tournament of Champions: it’s a special event. There are only 34 players. It will be someone who can be patient. The wind is not blowing at all at the minute, so it’s kind of freaky; we’re in the Twilight Zone. But you know it’s gonna blow. Anyone who can get through the week without getting in the head with a pineapple will have a chance.

Is there a real risk of that there?

We’re surrounded by sugar cane and pineapples. If you get disillusioned, you can just wander off.

Yeah. You could become entranced by the scenery. I don’t know if the punters have taken that into account. Hopefully that’s being factored in when picking a winner there.

Notice how I avoided picking a winner there?

You did. That was a wonderful bit of obfuscation there…Now you can’t be wrong.

Yeah, I brought fruit into the equation and it was all smoke and mirrors. Frankly, I don’t know.

Well me neither. So that makes for two of us.

There you go.

I’m curious too, you know, tremendous elevation changes, and you’re chasing down 400-yard drives. Where does Kapalua factor in as far as walkability and the difficulty of your task out there?

Well, good luck with the walkability. You actually need a Hyundai to get from a green to the next tee.

I guess it’s a fortuitous partnership then.

Well, that’s true.

It can be a very strenuous walk. But these kids are in fantastic shape. The most demanding part of any of these four-round golf tournaments is the guys who are close to the lead. Having that pressure when you go to bed at night, and waking up with it, for three or four days, they’re worn out mentally, not so much physically.

I’ll ask you for one more bit of prognostication here: Do you think Rory gets to the career grand slam this year?

It would halfway surprise me if he doesn’t, as good as he is. Unless Tiger Woods plays well, I can’t see anybody beating him.

His swing, it’s just statuesque. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing to watch. And he’s such a good kid too. He’s every mother’s dream. His commercial attachments…they’re all so delighted with him. He represents himself and the game so beautifully. It’s an honor to be around in the Rory McIlroy era.

Absolutely. He’s a tremendous spokesperson for the game. Is his your favorite swing to watch?

At the moment, for sure. It’s just beautiful. Long, straight lines. Effortless power. A fabulous follow-through. When your knees just bend a bit and you sink into that comfortable follow-through position, it’s like, “Oh, please. I wish I could do that once in my career.”

It’s beautiful and disgusting all at the same time.

Exactly.

OK. I’m happy to let you off the hook now, sir.

Yeah. I just never stop…never start working. I think that’s the word I’m looking for there.

I’m very grateful, personally. You’re someone I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to talk to. Thank you, sir.

I love people with low standards. Thank you.

Be well and avoid getting hit in the head with a pineapple.

You’ve got it. I’ll avoid the drive-by fruitings.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. snowman0157

    Jan 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Is anyone else bored with Feherty’s forced quirkiness?

  2. other paul

    Jan 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    For people who get irritated at the obvious fact that every article is a commercial in some way, THAT IS THE POINT OF A GOLF WEBSITE! To support the game by getting us to buy stuff, take lessons, and play more. I get so annoyed with all the endless sissy whining around here. I’m sure the writers do as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have an office side bet on every article about how long it will take before the comments have complaints about advertising.

    • Dirk

      Jan 11, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      You are completely wrong, all caps or not. The point of an interview is not to be a commercial. It’s to be informative/interesting. Sure, this website sells a lot of stuff and advertises a lot of products, but this isn’t a review for a club or a new ball, it’s a conversation with a golf personality. Thus, it (ideally) has a different function from an advertisement. Do you expect Jim Furyk to start praising 5 Hour Energy during an interview with Feherty?

  3. Dirk

    Jan 11, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Wow, Ben really impressed me with his vocabulary and his willingness to let his big interview be a commercial for Hyundai! Solid work, Ben!

  4. Fred

    Jan 11, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Very hard hitting interview! That was a waste of my time. Weak.

    • Zooch

      Jan 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      He was nice enough to give golfwrx five minutes for a softball interview. This isn’t Meet the Press. I’d like to see a sampling of your no holds barred interview of David Fehrety. Get over yourself.

  5. Christian

    Jan 10, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Well. That was a commercial about a commercial. Wasn’t it? I’m sure someone will win a prize for writing and using that part about Hyundai.

  6. P

    Jan 10, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Why didn’t Matsuyama show up to the TOC?

    Somebody should make a point of it and highlight the issue. Ask him directly.

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Tour Mash: Rahm wins in Dubai, Cook sizzles to victory

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Two more points races reached their end this weekend. The LPGA season culminated in Florida with the Race to the CME Globe, while the European Tour concluded its Race to Dubai in, where else? Dubai! The PGA Tour played its final event until the new year, in Georgia, while the Ladies European Tour played its Sanya Open in China. Before American Thanksgiving revelry and remembrance set in, it’s time for one more tour mash.

LPGA Tour: A day of twos ends in a win for Ariya

Ariya Jutanugarn birdied her final two holes to win the CME Tour Championship. She was given the opportunity to win in regulation when Lexi Thompson pushed a 2-foot putt for par at the last. Although Thompson did not win the year’s final event, she captured 2 titles of her own: Vare Trophy for low scoring average and Race To CME Globe, the season’s points race.

How Ariya Jutanugarn tasted victory

The power game has arrived on the LPGA Tour, in case you missed it. Golfers such as Lexi, Ariya and Sung Hyun Park obliterate the orb, leaving little yardage to the green. When her game is firing, Ariya Jutanugarn is unstoppable. After bogey at the first hole on Sunday, the young golfer from Thailand etched six birdies into the final 17 holes, for a second-consecutive 67. Her birdie at the last came from 23 feet, an amazing putt to hole with victory on the line. Down it went, and up went the smile of a champion.

How the rest came up just shy of a win

With eerie similarity, Lexi Thompson’s card was the flip side of Ariya’s. Thompson made six birdies over her first 17 holes, but the hiccough at the last, her only bogey on the day, dropped her to 14-under par and opened the door for Jutanugarn. Thompson was on absolute fire on Sunday, hitting all 14 fairways and using the putter 28 times. Ariya, Kim Kaufman, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen stood tied atop at 10-under, heading into round 4. Pettersen’s 72, Kaufman’s 71 and Wie’s 70 were simply not enough to keep pace with those coming from behind on Sunday. Ariya, however, was up to the challenge.

European Tour: Rahm wins in Dubai and Fleetwood breathes again

For a time, it seemed as though Justin Rose would win his third consecutive event in Europe and would squeeze past Fleetwood for the season points title. The former Englishman was in the midst of the greatest scoring run of his career, while the later Englishman seemed to have little petrol left in the tank. Then the back nine on Sunday happened, and everything changed.

How Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour

Shane Lowry made 10 birdies on Sunday, but he had one bogey. Rahm had half as many birdies and zero bogeys, and that last number made the difference. The young Basque played a stellar 132 over the closing 36 holes, eclipsed only by Lowry’s 131. Rahm fearlessly navigated his way around the Jumeirah Estates course, eeking out a one-shot win over Lowry and also hard-charging Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

How the others went home trophy-less

We all want to know about Rose. four birdies on the outward 9-holes staked him to a lead, and the greatest season comeback on a major tour was nearly written. With only three bogeys in his first 63 holes, Rose proceeded to bogey 12, 14 and 16, with only a birdie at the last to bring him to 17-under. He ended up two behind Rahm, and in second place in the Race to Dubai points race. It was a glorious campaign for Rose, and cements him as world player to watch in 2018. The Englishman tied for fourth with Sergio Garcia, Dean Burmeister and Dylan Fritelli, both of South Africa, on 17-under par.

PGA Tour: Cook collects First Tour win in Georgia

Fall is a time for young aspirants to make a mark on the PGA Tour. Austin Cook followed the script, birdieing 3-of-his-final-4 holes to stretch a single-shot lead into a four-stroke triumph. J.J. Spaun, a Web.Com tour graduate in 2017, was in the mix for the second consecutive week. He played well down the stretch, and earned a runner-up finish.

How Cook caught fire

Austin Cook played a veteran front-nine, with one bogey and one birdie. None of the chasers caught him, so the Arkansas alum continued to manage his game in the fairways-greens style. On the inward half, Cook took charge, with birdies at 15, 17 and 18, to move well in front of the runner-up. With the precision of a surgeon, Cook took apart the Sea Island course in impressive fashion. After his second-round 62, many expected him to have one weak round on the weekend, but 66-67 showed the his mettle.

How the others flamed out

Spaun really didn’t flame out, not like last week, when he caught the double-bogey train. A proven winner on other tours, Spaun should win in 2018. His game was solid, mixing in more birdies than bogeys, and his second-place finish was well-earned. Brian Gay might have been more comfortable than any other golfer this week, but he was just as erratic. Case in point: back nine. From holes 13 to 18, Gay made one birdie, two eagles, two pars and one double. Still, his numbers were low enough to secure solo third, one stroke behind Spaun and two in front of the fourth-place finishers.

Ladies European Tour: Boutier sizzles on back nine for win

Celine Boutier imagined a top-10 or top-5 when the third day dawned at Yalong Bay, in China. After bogeys on holes 4 and 5, she needed to gather herself in order to preserve her standing. From this day forward, “gather herself” in the dictionary will forever show a picture of Celine Boutier. Her six-birdie finish vaulted her past all challengers, to her first European Tour victory.

How Boutier bloomed

The recent Duke University graduate posted three rounds in the 60s, the only competitor to achieve that distinction at the Sanya Open. The Frenchwoman didn’t make a bogey until the 15th hole of her second round, but she was stuck in neutral from that hole through the 9th hole on Sunday, making only pars and bogeys. Something clicked at the turn, and Boutier regained the confidence that had produced 10 birdies during the tournament’s first half.

How the others gave chase

Solar Lee was in good standing on Sunday’s outward nine. She bounced back from an opening bogey with three birdies through the 9th, and held the top spot on the leader board at 7-under. Lee reached 9-under through 13, but made bogey at 14 to drop to 8-under. Then came the blossoming of Boutier, and Lee had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot. One spot behind Lee was Valdis Thora Jonsdottir, Iceland’s reigning professional golfer, at 7-under.

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Wednesday’s Photos from The 2017 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from The 2017 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club — the Seaside course plays as a par 70 measuring 7,005 yards — in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

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Headlined by last week’s OHL Classic champion Patton Kizzire, and 2015 RSM Champion Kevin Kisner, this week’s field is filled with notable names including Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, Beau Hossler, Zach Johnson, Smylie Kaufman, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Ollie Schniederjans, Brandt Snedeker, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson and others.

In last year’s RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes won in a five-man playoff to secure his first PGA Tour victory. He’s back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out out photos from Sea Island G.C. below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2017 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from The 2017 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club — the Seaside course plays as a par 70 measuring 7,005 yards — in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Related

Headlined by last week’s OHL Classic champion Patton Kizzire, and 2015 RSM Champion Kevin Kisner, this week’s field is filled with notable names including Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, Beau Hossler, Zach Johnson, Smylie Kaufman, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Ollie Schniederjans, Brandt Snedeker, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson and others.

In last year’s RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes won in a five-man playoff to secure his first PGA Tour victory. He’s back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out out photos from Sea Island G.C. below!

Tuesday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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