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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 Rundown: Swafford slips and recovers | Wolfe | + Catch up on the winners you missed last week

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During the excitement of last week’s US Open, we were unable to give proper coverage to the LPGA and PGA Tour Champions. We plan to rectify that this week, with a look back at the last, full week of golf in September 2020, along with a look waaay back at what else went on during US Open week. It’s strange to imagine fall as majors season, but with the Masters coming up in November, golf suddenly carries some weight with American football. The world’s top players will play some sort of schedule, in the run-up to an 11th-Month Augusta, and we should have quite the look at our favorite players as the leaves turn majestic. Time to Tour Rundown. Wake me up, when September ends.

Swafford captures Corales Puntacana title after slipping

The University of Georgia’s Hudson Swafford came out on tour in 2011. He won on the Korn Ferry tour the following season, then claimed an inaugural PGA Tour title in 2017. Three years on, he has a second, big-tour win to add to his wiki, thanks to a solid, bike-balancing in the Dominican Republic.

Swafford sat second to Adam Long on Saturday evening, but inherited the top spot as Long struggle on the outward nine, eventually settling in fifth place. Swafford was out in 31, thanks to a mighty eagle on the par-five fifth hole. Then, awareness rose from the mists, and he made double bogey at 13, followed by bogey at 15. At that juncture of the fairways, Nate Lashley, Tyler McCormick, and Mackenzie Hughes had worked into contention.

Bogey at 17 did Lashley in, while Hughes suffered a similar fate at the final hole. McCumber surged late, capping a bogey-free 32 back nine with a birdie at the last. This effort garnered him solo second spot. As for Swafford, he struck a magnificent iron on the windy, par-three 17th hole to fifteen feet, then dropped the slow-roller for deuce and a lead that would hold to the end. The tour returns stateside this week, at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.

Wolfe claims second KF Tour victory of 2020

Back in January, before the world knew that it would turn inside-out, Jared Wolfe took a large step in his ten-year touring career. Buoyed by PGA Tour Latinoamerica victories in three consecutive seasons, the former Racer from Murray State earned a Korn Ferry tour victory in the Bahamas. Eight months later, Wolfe can add a bookend trophy to his home shelf, following a one-shot win over Canada’s Taylor Pendrith.

The pair entered the final round 1-2, and held position throughout most of day four. Pendrith made birdie at the 15th, but Wolfe topped him with an eagle at 14. Pendrith then notched a bogey at 16, but Wolfe outdid him again with bogies at 15 and 16. In other words, they were feeling the nerves. Pars at the final two holes for both meant a one-stroke cushion for Wolfe, and increased buoyancy in the world of professional golf.

It should be mentioned that Taylor Pendrith, in any other year, would be the story of the season. After finishing outside the top 25 in his first five KF Tour events, followed by a pair of missed cuts, the Ontario native has collected four 2nds and a 3rd over his last nine starts. With a win anywhere, Pendrith would top The 25 money list. Currently, he sits in 2nd spot, behind Will Zalatoris. The Korn Ferry tour heads to Savannah, Georgia, for this week’s penultimate 2020 tournament.

Catlin corrals second 2020 win in Northern Ireland

2020 is defining itself, in mild golf terms, as a year of the late bloomer. In addition to Jared Wolfe, we now have John Catlin. Over the years, the former University of New Mexico golfer has plied his trade on the Asian and European tours. As September arrived, so did Catlin, with a career-changing win in southern Spain. After the Irish Open this week at Galgorm Spa, the Sacramento native now has a pair of Euro tour titles, and a fair amount of standing and cache in the world of golf.

England’s Aaron Rai held a four-stroke lead on the first tee, Sunday morning. He worked his way around the course in 70, the second time he had done so all week. Thrice on the day, he traded birdie for bogey. Rai began his round with a lost shot, but retrieved it immediately at the second. His second birdie of the day, at the 10th, was immediately offset by stray play at the 11th. Finally, and most injurious, he made birdie at 17 to keep hope alive. Needing a 2nd consecutive one to tie Catlin, Rai made bogey at the par-five closer to finish at 8-under par, in solo second position.

What drove Rai to desperation? A seven-birdie onslaught by the American. Catlin burst forth with four birdies over his first 10 holes. A bogey at the 13th slowed his roll, but he surged again toward the end. Catlin gained strokes on Old Man Par at three of his final four holes, only failing to go red at the par-four 17th hole. His 64 was 2nd low of the week and day, eclipsed only by Fabrizio Zanotti’s Sunday 63. The European Tour returns this week to the Renaissance Club in Scotland, for that nation’s Open championship.

Hall earns first LPGA title on US soil (last week)

Georgia Hall, she of the masterful 2018 Open championship title, earned a 2nd career win and first in the states last week. Hall and her compatriots journeyed to the kingdom of Oregon, and waged war at the Columbia Edgewater Club. Hall lurked in the shadows after an opening 70, but burst forth into the light with a second-round 66. Joining her in contention was a healthy mix of names and not-yet-names. Among the former were Moriya Jutanugarn and Inbee Park. Checking boxes in the later were Robyn Ree, Yealimi N0h, and Ashleigh Buhai. It was this last name that would prove most intriguing.

While Hall crafted another fine round, a 68 marked by six birdies and two bogeys, Buhai was on the prowl. The South African posted eight birdies on day three, including four of her final five holes. Only an unfortunate bogey at the 13th kept her from a clean card (and an outright win!) As the dust settled and the ink dried, Hall and Buhai headed toward a reckoning in extra holes, thanks to their tie at twelve deep.

Pars at the 18th brought them to the 1st, where both missed the green with approach shots. Neither recovery was stone dead, but Hall was able to coax her five-feet putt into the abyss for par. Buhai was not so fortunate, as her wee par putt stayed on the surface. The LPGA Tour travels to the opposite coast this week, for a go-round in Galloway, New Jersey, at the ShopRite Classic.

Furyk holds off Kelly in PURE playoff (last week)

Any weekend in Monterey is special, and the PURE Insurance championship made certain to hold itself to that standard. Finishing 3rd was Ernie Els; 4th was Mike Weir; and 5th was Retief Goosen. Major champions in their hey day, any member of that trio would have been a worth winner at Pebble Beach. Instead, it was left to Jim Furyk and Jerry Kelly to decide matters in overtime. Let’s reverse gears, though, and find out how we arrived at extra holes.

Furyk opened with 64, good for a one-shot advantage over Els, Cameron Beckman and Stephen Leaney. Kelly was seven shots back, at 71. On day two, Weir shone with 65, while Furyk regressed with 73, and jumped up with 68. Els was your overnight leader, but the Big Easy was too easy on the field, and did not capitalize on his standing. It’s safe to say that Els lacks the killer instinct of a Bernhard Langer; too many times in his career, he has let tournaments large and small, escape from his clutches.

Day three saw Kelly complete his monster comeback. His 65 was tied for low with Rod Pampling, and while Rod rocketed from 63rd to 31st, Kelly’s rise was even more valuable. He jumped from 9th to 1st, with a bogey at the scenic 8th the only speed bump between him and outright victory. As for Furyk, that 73 left a rotten taste in his mouth, so he returned a slightly-bizarre 67 of his own. The bald eagle was out in 31 strokes, thanks to three birds and a bald eagle in the first six holes. Furyk then Faldo-ed his way home, with 12 consecutive pars. Somehow, his bland play was good enough to reach the playoff.

The old guys lasted just one hole. Both Furyk and Kelly had wedge approach shots left to the fabled 18th green at Pebble Beach. Kelly got his ball left of the hole, and it spun away, to a dozen feet. From there, he two-putted for par. Furyk was able to keep his approach right of the flag, and the spin brought it back to about 30 inches. He knocked down the birdie putt, and moved to two events, two wins, on the tour for seniors. He might want to retire undefeated, but we doubt it. The PGA Tour Champions returns to action next week, in Cary, North Carolina.

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Morning 9: Hud Swaff | Finau’s former backer sues | Gene Parente: Hero | Tiger backup putter fetches $150K

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1. Hud Swaff!
A big win…and some interesting victory headwear. 
 
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“Thanks to a timely birdie on the penultimate hole and a clutch par putt on the final green, Hudson Swafford got back into the winner’s circle at the Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.”
  • “Swafford started the day two shots behind Adam Long, but he quickly became the man to beat in the Dominican Republic after playing the first eight holes in 5 under. At one point Swafford held a four-shot lead on the back nine, but a double bogey on No. 13 let a handful of players back into the tournament. After dropping another shot on No. 16, Swafford stepped to the tee at the par-3 17th tied for the lead with Mackenzie Hughes and Tyler McCumber.”
  • “But he went on to hit the shot of the tournament, stuffing his approach inside 15 feet to set up a decisive birdie.”
2. Catlin closes in Ireland
AP report…”John Catlin birdied three of his last four holes Sunday to close with a 6-under 64 and storm from behind for a two-shot victory in the Irish Open, his second in three weeks on the European Tour.”
  • “Catlin, a 29-year-old American who until this year had only won on the Asian Tour, will move into the top 100 in the world for the first time in his career.”
  • “Aaron Rai never got anything going in favorable conditions at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort. A birdie on the 17th hole pulled him within one shot of Catlin, and a birdie on the par-5 closing hole would have forced a playoff. Instead, Rai made bogey and closed with a 70.”
3. Gene Parente’s in-flight heroics
Mike Stachura at Golf Digest with a heckuva story featuring Golf Laboratories’ Gene Parente as protagonist and hero.
“…Relaxing in a mostly empty business section on a return trip from Incheon, South Korea last Thursday, Parente found himself called on to wrestle down an unruly passenger on a Korean Air flight who was threatening he had a bomb and was trying to break down the cockpit door…”
  • “I was probably a little groggy so I really wasn’t sure what was going on,” he said when reached by phone on Sunday after initial news reports of the incident. “But then I saw this guy up ahead of me in business class yelling, maybe not psychotically but he’s clearly upset. And then I see that’s he’s got a plastic bag on his head.
  • ….”Parente said as he reached for the man he was nearly knocked out when the man punched him in the chest, but then he began returning punches and shouting in the galley at the front of the plane, an area Parente said felt about two feet square. “I’m doing all of this while wearing a mask, but I can assure you we were not social distancing,” he said. “I don’t know if this was going on for 10 seconds or 10 minutes, it was all a blur. I push him against the wall and we’re screaming and punching each other and just at that instant both my arms are grabbed from behind.”
  • “Two Korean Air pilots who were traveling on the flight had jumped in to break up the disturbance not realizing that Parente was the good guy. When the man had been subdued by Parente and the pilots, he refused to speak to anyone but Parente. “We had been fighting each other like five seconds ago, but when we got him he sat down, I could see in his eyes that he was mentally ill,” Parente said. “And then the guy bolted for the cockpit again, and ran through another flight attendant like NFL linebacker hitting a middle school kid.”
4. Another winning wolf
Golfweek’s Jared Wolfe…“Make that two Korn Ferry Tour players who are now one win away from promotion to the PGA Tour.”
  • “Jared Wolfe captured the Wichita Open on Sunday at Crestview Country Club to join Davis Riley as two-time winners this season on the developmental tour. The 32-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, shot 1-over 71 and hung on at 16 under for a one-shot victory over Taylor Pendrith.”
  • “Wolfe made no birdies during his closing round in cold, wet and windy conditions, but his eagle at the par-5 14th hole gave him the cushion he needed, as he bogeyed Nos. 15 and 16. Pendrith, who now has five top-3 finishes since the restart, also bogeyed No. 16 before making two pars coming in for a closing 69.”
5. Finau sued by former backer
Mike Sorensen for the Desert News…“Utah professional golfer Tony Finau is being sued by Molonai Hola, a former business associate, for more than $16 million.”
  • “The suit, which was filed last week in 3rd District Court, claims Hola paid Finau and his family’s expenses for several years with the agreement of being paid back, but was never compensated.”
  • “Hola became acquainted with the Finau family around 1997, and as the owner of Icon Sports began financing expenses for Tony and his younger brother Gipper, according to the suit.”
  • “Also named in the lawsuit are Finau’s brother, Gipper, his father, Gary, his agent Christopher Armstrong and the Wasserman Media Group.”
6. A Tiger Woods backup putter fetches $150K
Tom VanHaaren at ESPN…“A Tiger Woods backup putter from 2001 sold at Golden Age Golf Auctions early Sunday morning for $154,928, which is believed to be the most a putter of this caliber has ever sold for.”
  • “The putter is a Scotty Cameron Newport II produced for Woods as a backup to the putter he has used to win 14 of his 15 major championships. Scotty Cameron made Woods a backup putter nearly every year if something were to happen to the putter he used in tournament play or he decided to make a switch.”
  • “This putter was produced in 2001, the year Woods completed the “Tiger Slam” in which he won all four majors consecutively after winning the Masters that April.”
7. Will Zalatoris’ impressive run continues
Adam Stanley for PGATour.com writes Zalatoris is…”inching closer to special temporary membership on the PGA TOUR.”
“Zalatoris, who is tops on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, shot a bogey-free 65 Sunday at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship to finish T8.”
  • “With the top-10 result, the former Walker Cup team member will earn a spot in next week’s Sanderson Farms Championship. He got into the event in the Domincan Republic after an impressive T6 at the U.S. Open.”
  • “Zalatoris is in the midst of a record-setting season on the Korn Ferry Tour but admitted he was “drained” this week after finishing inside the top-10 at Winged Foot.”
8. Mel Reid opens up
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with an excellent piece on Mel Reid’s journey…A morsel: “Four years before that, Reid lost her mother, Joy, in a car accident in Munich. Mel was there to compete in the UniCredit Ladies German Open. She’d go on to win in Prague one month later.”
  • “Yet the healing process was anything but a straight line. Reid, a six-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, nearly quit the game twice and only recently said she’s starting to come to grips with so many struggles from the neck up that have held her back.”
  • “One week before she left for Royal Troon in August, Reid spoke with sports psychologist Howard Falco for the first time. She immediately felt comfortable with Falco, and opened up deep-rooted wounds she’d been reluctant to address.”
  • “Understanding her self-worth was at the heart of it.”
  • “I think that has been a big issue for me,” she said, “whether I deserve stuff.”
9. Hudson Swafford’s winning WITB
Driver: G400 LST (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila NV 60 TX
3-wood: Ping i25 (14 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 125 MSI 80 TX
5-wood: Ping i25 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Blue 85
Irons: Ping S55 (4-9)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 (46-10F), SM7 (52-12F, 56-10S), TaylorMade MG Hi Toe (60-09LB)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Tour
Grip: SuperStroke
Ball: Titleist Pro V1

 

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The DailyWRX (9/24/2020)

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My kid trying to convince me Pokemon is a kid in his school…

…best words start with F and end with K…if you wanna get creative add you or me to the end. Helps me daily.

Is it me or did Rory barely swing at that…

I’m bummed I have to leave a course I won and play at a course I dominate on. Classic TDub!

Who cares…ESPN isn’t ESPN anymore…hasn’t been in YEARS.

DM @johnny_wunder if you know what happened to ESPN

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