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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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Photos from the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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GolfWRX is live from Detroit Golf Club for the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf!

And while COVID-19 restrictions mean we can’t bring you in-hand shots at present, we’re still doing our best to deliver tour equipment shots. And there were plenty of interesting things to be seen on the equipment front, including an iron and driver shaft switch from Rickie Fowler and some cool National Custom Works irons for lord of the golf hipsters, Zac Blair.

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Morning 9: U.S. Open leaving Fox for NBC | Harris English positive for COVID-19 | Feinstein: Why the Ryder Cup must be postponed

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1. U.S. Open returning to NBC…this year.
In case you missed the news yesterday, here’s Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…“NBC is once again home to the U.S. Open and the USGA’s full slate of championships.”
  • “The USGA announced Monday that, effective immediately, the broadcast rights for its championships have transferred from Fox Sports to NBC.”
  • “Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but NBC will assume the remainder of the contract, through at least 2026.”
  • “NBC televised the U.S. Open from 1995 through 2014 before Fox won the rights with a 12-year deal that was reportedly worth about $1 billion.”
And the AP’s esteemed Doug Ferguson, who broke the story, writes…“One person said NBC would pay for just under half of the rights fee through the rest of the contract.”
  • “Two other people said the deal began to take shape this month, especially with the U.S. Open being moved to September during the opening month of the NFL.”
  • “One person said Fox was contemplating moving the U.S. Open to FS1, an idea that was rebuffed by Mike Davis, the CEO of the USGA. That led to deeper conversations about the contract and how it could be resolved.”
2. Harris English tests positive for COVID-19
Golfweek’s JuliaKate E. Culpepper…“A fifth PGA Tour player has tested positive for COVID-19.”
  • “The Tour announced Monday Harris English tested positive for the virus and has withdrawn from the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The 30-year-old did not compete during last week’s Travelers Championship.”
  • “Harris is the second player to test positive ahead of this week’s event at Detroit Golf Club. The Tour announced Sunday Dylan Frittelli also tested positive for the virus.”
3. Watney on coronavirus quarantine…
AP report…”Monday marked the 10th day of self-isolation for Nick Watney, the minimum required for PGA Tour players who test positive for the coronavirus.”
  • “He said he is feeling good except for some minor fatigue, perhaps brought on by a major case of boredom, and except for the distinction of becoming the first of what now is five players and two caddies who have tested positive since the PGA Tour returned amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • “I will say, it’s not the greatest feeling being the first to get it,” Watney said in his first interview since he was notified June 19 at the RBC Heritage of his positive test.
  • “Some things are so vague around this thing,” he said. “The symptoms … some people get this, some get that. I haven’t had a fever or cough the whole time, no shortness of breath. Maybe that’s the reason it’s so scary. I still don’t know how or where I got it.”
4. Feinstein on postponing the Ryder Cup
John Feinstein for Golf Digest…“You can play any event in golf-including the four majors-without fans. You can’t do it at the Ryder Cup. Oh, sure, you might miss the roars coming down the stretch at Augusta, but the Masters will be fine come November if the green jackets decide they can’t allow their “patrons” on to the hallowed grounds. The same will be true for the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in August and the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September.”
  • “If the last three weeks have proved nothing else, it’s that quality golf can be played without having to endure “get in the hole!” shouts when someone is teeing off on a 550-yard par 5. The absence of fans has also helped immeasurably with pace of play.”
  • “Don’t get me wrong: I want to see fans back on golf courses as soon as it’s safe, and I’ll be fascinated to see what will happen if the Memorial goes ahead with its plan to let 8,000 fans onto Muirfield Village next month. But the presence of fans-even when they go over the top at times with boorish behavior-is as much a part of the Ryder Cup as the 17-inch-high gold trophy.”
5. ICYMI: Special temporary membership for Will Gordon
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”A little more than a year ago, Gordon was playing for Vanderbilt, where he was once the SEC Player of the Year. But Sunday he was contending against the game’s best, making the most of a sponsor’s exemption at the Travelers Championship. Gordon played his way into the mix with a second-round 62, and he closed with a 64 that gave him a share of third place along with Mackenzie Hughes.”
  • “In addition to a six-figure payday, Gordon’s finish earned him special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. He had had some success in other spot starts this season, including a T-10 finish at the RSM Classic and a T-21 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open.”
  • “I knew something in the top five would maybe have a chance,” Gordon said. “I knew the higher the better, so I was watching the leaderboard coming in. I knew if I got up there, T-1, T-2 by the end of 18 holes, that I might finish in the top three.”
6. How courses can be more welcoming to LGBTQ community
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offered a number of guidelines, including…”Train employees on inclusive terms and language”
“As a golf club, it’s important to educate your staff members, to make sure they know to be inclusive and nonjudgmental,” says LPGA Tour pro Mel Reid. “Educating and communicating with their members is another big thing.”
  • “Part of that education is in how players are greeted when they arrive at a course. For example, asking a woman if she’s going to be playing with her husband when she arrives at a course reveals the assumption that she is straight. Simple substitutions, like using the word “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife,” can make a big difference…”
  • “Put a Pride symbol at your course…Fitzgerald talked about this idea with us first at the Pride Open in 2019, and we spoke about it again for this story. “The LGBTQ community is finally feeling accepted in the golf industry, getting out and about and playing and practicing,” Fitzgerald says. “What’s really helping is feeling accepted and seeing there’s some show of invitation or acceptance from golf courses, public or private-things like a little sticker in the window or a Pride flag on their websites do wonders to make LGBTQ golfers feel welcome. We’ll be active and looking for those symbols at golf facilities.”
7. Tee sheets filling up in Ireland
Simon Lewis for the Irish Examiner…“Golf courses moved into the next phase of their roadmap out of pandemic with a leading club general manager talking optimistically of a strong future for the sport in Ireland.”
  • “Clubhouses reopened on Monday for the first time since courses, clubs, and driving ranges were shut down due to the Covid-19 outbreak on March 24. Though play did resume for members living within five kilometres of their clubs on May 18 under Phase 1 of the Irish Government’s lifting of restrictions, Monday marked the first day in which visitors were welcomed alongside members, travel restrictions within Ireland were lifted, and competition golf could resume.”
  • “The Golfing Union of Ireland and Irish Ladies Golf Union has also allowed a shorter interval for fourballs on timesheets, bringing the gap between tee-times down from 14 to 10 minutes and clubhouse restaurants and bars operating as restaurants are open under strict guidelines outline by Fáilte Ireland, all good news for golf club treasurers and general managers such as Cork GC’s Matt Sands.”
8. North & South Am 
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine...”Though many international players remain limited by travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, for those players in the U.S., a month-and-a-half-long stretch of elite amateur tournaments begins Tuesday at Pinehurst.”
  • “Think of it as amateur golf’s version of the FedExCup Playoffs, with four high-profile events setting the stage for the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes in mid-August.”
  • “The North and South Amateur will feature two of the world’s top-10 players, Georgia’s Davis Thompson (4) and Texas’ Cole Hammer (7), as well as defending champion Cooper Dossey of Baylor and two semifinalists from last year’s U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst, William Holcomb and Cohen Trolio.”
9. PGA Professional Championship scratched 
John Strege at Golf Digest…“The PGA of America announced on Monday that it has canceled the PGA Professional Championship, rescheduled for July 19-22 at the Omni Barton Creek” “Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. Originally, it was to have been played April 26-29, though it was postponed on March 16.”
  • “Despite a deep desire to stage our signature Member Championship on behalf of its talented field, it became apparent after consultation with local health authorities in Austin last week that this could not be done responsibly,” the PGA wrote on its website.”
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Morning 9: DJ wins again | COVID-19: Champ negative, Frittelli postive, J. Day scare | W for Fassi

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1. DJ returns…now a winner in 13 straight seasons 
…and owner of a new blue blazer for the wardrobe! AP report…”Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship on Sunday to end a long drought and extend his career-long season victory streak to 13.”
  • “Johnson closed with a 3-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Kevin Streelman at TPC River Highlands. Johnson last won in March 2019.”
2. You may have missed: Day’s situation…further protocol changes
Nick Pietruszkiewicz for ESPN.com…”On Saturday morning, Jason Day asked to be tested again. He had an 8:19 a.m. tee time. Clearly, he wasn’t going to get a result in time. So his tee time was pushed back. He didn’t play with Rafa Cabrera Bello and Rogan Sloan, as scheduled. Instead, as the tournament leader Mickelson teed off on the first hole with Will Gordon and MacKenzie Hughes, a few hundred yards away at the 10th tee, at the exact same time, Day was started his round all by himself, not knowing whether he was positive or negative.”
  • “The result came in a few holes later. He was negative; had he been positive, he would have been removed from the course midround and put into isolation.”
  • “Shortly after the PGA Tour announced his negative result, it announced another change to the protocols, their second such announcement in four days. Going forward, beginning at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, players would not be allowed on site at an event until they got back a negative test result.”
3. Cam Champ tests negative for COVID-19 3X
Adam Woodard for Golfweek…“After three tests over the last 72 hours all came back negative, the 25-year-old took to Twitter to announce the good news on Saturday afternoon.”
  • “Subsequent to my positive test result for COVID-19, I am fortunate to say that I had three consecutive negative test results in the 72 hours which immediately followed. I’ve felt great the whole time and experienced no symptoms. I am pleased to be on my way home in accordance with the CDC Guidelines,” said Champ via a statement.
  • “He continued: “I would like to thank my team, all the medical advisors, and everyone at the Travelers Championship, as well as the player relations team at the PGA Tour, for their advice, care, and attention during this process. A special thanks goes out to my fiancee, our family, my partners, and all of you out there for the outpouring of love and support that I’ve received this week. Stay safe and see you soon!”
4. Dylan Frittelli tests positive 
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…“Dylan Frittelli has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the fourth player to do so since the PGA Tour resumed its season three weeks ago.”
  • “The tour announced the test result in a statement on Sunday night. “I am experiencing no issues and feel great physically and was surprised and disappointed to learn of the positive test today,” Frittelli said in the statement. “I look forward to getting back on tour once it’s safe to do so.”
  • “Frittelli, who missed the cut at the Travelers Championship after playing the first two rounds with Ian Poulter and J.T. Poston, has withdrawn from next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.”
5. McIlroy on T12 finish: Decision making “terrible”
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister…“he will definitely take next week off in Detroit at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and may not return to action until the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, the second of two consecutive TOUR events at Muirfield Village.”
  • “The way I’m feeling right now,” McIlroy said, “I feel like a couple weeks off … just reset and start again.”
  • …”McIlroy was playing the Travelers for the third time in the last four years, having finished inside the top 20 in his previous two times. He has another top-20 this week, but the lasting feeling for McIlroy is frustration.”
  • “Decision-making was terrible the last few days,” McIlroy said. “Just some stupid shots and trying to take too much on at times. I think probably playing a little bit and just being a little more thoughtful on the course. Yeah, it’s just sort of dumb mistakes in there that I don’t usually make.”
6. For Phil: Progress-despite weekend fade (and joggers)
…kidding, I’m bullish on joggers! Always! Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”It wasn’t the weekend finish he envisioned, but Phil Mickelson still viewed his stint at the Travelers Championship as a step in the right direction.”
  • “Mickelson made the most of his first start as a 50-year-old, shooting rounds of 64-63 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend as he looked to win for the third time at TPC River Highlands.” “But he couldn’t keep pace from there, closing with two straight rounds of 1-over 71. Mickelson finished the week at 11 under in a tie for 24th place.”
  • …”I’m looking at this week as progress,” Mickelson said. “Certainly the goal is to win tournaments, but keep in mind I’ve missed a bunch of cuts. I haven’t played to the level I’ve wanted to, and this week I came in and had a lot of great finds. I hit a lot of good shots, hit a lot of good tee shots. My misses were much better.”
7. Meanwhile, on the KFT…
Trevor Allen at KSL Sports…“Baylor alum golfer Kyle Jones knocked off two others in a playoff round to win the Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship on Sunday.”
  • “Jones, Paul Haley II and Utah native Daniel Summerhays all finished the final round at -20 for the tournament and went on to play in a playoff at Oakridge Country Club.”
  • “…Jones scored a birdie on the second hole to claim the Utah Championship.”
 
8. Fassi wins first pro title
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Two eagles in the span of three holes vaulted Maria Fassi to her first professional title. The former Arkansas standout went wire-to-wire at the Cooper Communities NWA Classic on the Women’s All Pro Tour in Bella Vista, Arkansas, about 30 minutes from the Razorbacks’ home course, the Blessings Golf Club. Fassi won the individual NCAA Championship there last spring.”
  • “Fassi, who began her career on the LPGA just over one year ago, closed with a 68 in the final round to post a 14-under 274, finishing four shots ahead of amateur hotshot Alexa Pano.”
9. Two birdie bombs = $210K
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta..”Playing in the afternoon’s second-to-last group alongside runner-up Kevin Streelman, Mac Hughes poured in a pair of birdie bombs late Sunday to vault himself into a backdoor tie for third at the Travelers Championship with a final-round 67.”
  • “…A pair of routine two-putts would have left Hughes in a six-way tie for sixth at 15 under, with Ryan Armour, Brendan Steele, Patton Kizzire, Scott Stallings and Bryson DeChambeau.”
  • “Instead, he locked up a tie for third with Will Gordon at 17 under….The difference between the respective finishes ($225,700 vs. $436,600): $210,900.”
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