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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 News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Custom Camerons, wedge stampings, a 6-hybrid, and Tiger wearing Tennis shoes?

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Yesterday, we brought you shots of Thomas Pieters’ iron stamping, Adam Scott’s new (shorter) wand, and more.

Today, we’ve got some more choice shots from the range at Riviera from Tuesday’s practice. Strap in for a sampling from a cornucopia of WITB shots and a helping of Tiger Woods (who we feature in two galleries). We also discussed his new driver shaft yesterday, so if you missed that piece, check it out.

On to the pictures.

First up, Wesley Bryan looks to be gaming an some Anthony Taranto artistry with his 54-degree Mack Daddy 4 wedge. Do work, indeed!

Ted Potter, Jr. won more than a million dollars at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. But as the check hasn’t come yet, he hasn’t been able to buy Goo Gone to take the tape residue off the bottom of his putter.

A custom Cam for Rafa Cabrera Bello.

…and William McGirt.

#GrindGoals (Luke Donald’s 60-degree Mizuno T7)

Vijay Singh looks to have gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap, and yet he’s still practicing!

The most famous putter in golf, and Nike Vapor Advantage tennis shoes for Tiger?

Apparently, all the weight modification available on PXG 0311 irons was insufficient for Charl Schwartzel.

When your name scripting matches your sponsor’s script…

This is not the WITB of a 20-handicapper, rather Camilo Villegas may be the only Tour pro gaming a 6-hybrid.

So much is going on with Camilo Villegas’ irons…

You’ve seen custom stampings, but how about Bubba Watson’s custom shaft and custom shaft graphic?

When you’re the only PGA Tour professional to own a candy store, your wedge imagery reflects that fact.

The Big Cat browsing GolfWRX on mobile, no doubt…

If you’d like to dig deeper, we have two galleries of range photos from the Riv, plus 13 (!) WITB threads. Dig in!

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