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.
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.
Zurich Classic Truck Report: Hovland testing Ping i59 Prototype irons, Xander’s Epic Speed Triple Diamond 5W
What testing is done and what equipment adjustments are made during a team event on the PGA Tour? Well, in the long view, what we’ll see on the range at the Zurich Classic likely isn’t that much different than the goings-on of a standard week on the PGA Tour. But this week in New Orleans, our sources indicate there’s a ton of shaft testing taking place as well as some significant toolbox adjustment.
What is else is happening on the equipment front in the Big Easy? Open the Tour Truck Report folder to find out.
We spotted Viktor Hovland with prototype i59 Ping irons. While Ping is mum on the details of the new line, Ryan Barath offered some speculation here.
Kris Ventura (non-staff) is putting an i210/Blueprint combo set in play.
Scottie Scheffler (non-staff), who has been in the Ping G400 LST, is 50-50 on playing G425 this week, according to a source.
Xander Schauffele is testing a prototype Epic Speed Triple Diamond fairway wood. Resident equipment expert Ryan Barath sees this as a possible smaller, deeper-faced, Sub Zero-esque Epic Speed variety, as he wrote here. Xander has his usual Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8 X (Black) shaft in the new tool.
Dylan Frittelli had an Epic Speed Max LS Triple Diamond built for testing with a 46-inch Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 60 TX shaft.
Mark Anderson tested a TSi2 15-degree fairway. Loved the easy launch, carry distance, and ball flight from both the turf and tee, according to a source.
Free-agent Jhonattan Vegas tested a TSi2 15-degree fairway.
TaylorMade is calling this “wedge week” and with that in mind, a number of staffers are using some very cool custom “RAW” staff bags, highlighting the unfinished wedge options across their line. Staffers will wear “RAW” hats as well, as showcased in the second photo below.
We still don’t have an official comment from PXG, the existence of “prototype” Gen4 0311 ST irons can’t be denied based on some more images we captured from the range this week.
Rocco Mediate was spotted with a DeChambeau-esque SIK putter and LA Golf Shaft combo.
Most interesting photos from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
This week, the PGA Tour is at the TPC Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans—which is the one and only team event that takes place during the season. GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy a glimpse into the bags of some of the world’s top golfers where the field of 160 (80 two-man teams) is getting ready to battle starting Thursday for the $7.4 million purse, with winning golfers each taking home just over $1 million dollars.
Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.
Rafa Campos loves contrast
Rafa’s irons and wedges couldn’t be more contrasting. A shiny set of Mizuno’s alongside some of the most perfectly patina’d raw Vokey SM8s you will ever see.
No mistake about who this putter belongs to
Doug Ghim has one heck of a really nice Scotty Cameron 009 – in fact it’s so nice the team at Scotty Cameron stamped it the same way I write my kid’s name into her shoes that she takes to daycare.
TaylorMade players getting a RAW deal this week
I kid. The only RAW deal going on is the fact that TaylorMade is calling this “wedge week” and with that in mind, a number of staffers are using some very cool custom staff bags.
You gotta test the product
Every week it seems like more and more players on the PGA Tour are using technology-packed putter shafts to help improve consistency. This week at the Zurich, we spotted a Scotty Cameron outfitted with an LA golf Shafts TPZ putter shaft and the tour rep was giving it a little test for feel.
Holmes is rolling with a Bettinardi
JB Holmes was spotted on the practice green as the TPC of Louisiana working on his putting with a Bettinardi mallet. Considering the event features an alternate shot format, it’s likely he was working on his pace. Nobody wants to leave their partner a long tester for par.
Something old and something new for Henrik
Henrik Stenson is mixing it up. He continues to use his tried and true Legacy black forged irons while also working with some of the newest putters from Odyssey like the below 2-ball Ten.
Kisner still working with an armlock
Although he was carrying both a conventional and armlock style putter this week, it looks like Kisner is starting to fully commit to the popular putting technique.
Hovland’s aim is on point
Little slopes make a big difference, which is why Viktor Hovland was seen working hard on his Aim-point technique using an around-the-hole drill and a digital level.
Woody Austin sure knows how to strike it
Although it has been years since he was a regular on the PGA Tour, Woody Austin still knows how to strike it! Just look at the wear pattern on his irons, and more specifically, his wedges.
Charl is looking for a flatstick
“Listen I got to go, I’m working on my putting”
Mr. Schwartzel sure knows how to swing a golf club, but on the greens is where he has recently struggled, and in New Orleans this week we spotted him testing a number of putters on the practice green.
We should note, he still has some raw Nike wedges in the bag too.
Keegan is hard at work on the putting green
The 2011 PGA Champion was on the green as using a laser alignment for what looked to be a face contact and putting path drill.
Rocco’s looking SIK
Rocca Mediate absolutely loves to tinker, and it also looks like Mr. DeChambeau is rubbing off on him based on his putter choice this week. He was spotted working with a custom SIK putter fitted with an LA Golf Shafts graphite shaft.
New Ping irons for Hovland
Viktor Hovland is bringing “gear junkie” heat this week to New Orleans. We spotted the Ping staffer with new i59 irons, along with some Glide Pro wedges that we first spotted a couple of weeks ago in Austin at the WGC.
Pop it and arm lock it
We continue to see more and more pros working on an armlock putting technique—it is certainly something that is picking up steam on tour.
PXG 0311 Gen4 ST sticking around
Although we still don’t have an official comment from PXG, the existence of “prototype” Gen 0311 ST irons can’t be denied based on some more images we captured this week.
Great bags for great causes
Both Scott Stallings and Greg Chalmers are using their biggest billboards—their staff bags, to promote great causes on tour.
For Greg, that means Maximum Chances, an organization that helps children with autism and their family’s connect to resources including financial aid, and for Scott Stallings, it’s to share the “Kids play free” program which he helped to found with the Tennessee Golf Foundation.
Billy Horschel’s got a new long iron
We spotted a new Titleist 620 CB 3-iron in the bag of Billy Horschel this week, which means there is once again fewer players than ever still using a blade 3-iron on the PGA Tour. Are blade long irons close to extinction?
Tour Rundown: Cink runs away with Heritage | Ko breaks three-year drought
A week after a major championship can have a bit of a hangover feel to it. When one ends with the welcoming of a first-time major winner, as we have had the past two weeks, it’s a double blessing. Patty Tavatanakit claimed the ANA Inspiration by two with her distance and consistency, while Hideki Matsuyama captured our attention with stellar execution and respectful dignity. In other words, this week had a lot to live up to, and it did precisely that.
Let’s roll up and run down the tour action that we saw the third week of April.
PGA Tour: Cink runs away with Heritage
Stewart Cink has made a habit of winning now and then for the past 24 years. He has a major title on his resume, and has represented the USA nine times in international team matches. In his third year on tour, Cink won on Hilton Head Island for the first time. He repeated in 2004, then waited 17 years to claim a third Heritage title, by four shots over Harold Varner III and Emiliano Grillo.
Despite a height of six feet four inches, Cink has never been a long hitter. As a result, a course like Harbor Town suits his game more than does a 7500-yard track. After 11 years away from the winner’s circle, Cink claimed the Safeway Open last fall by two strokes. That win, over Harry Higgs, was not an easy one. In complete contrast, this week in South Carolina was complete dominance by Cink.
The Georgia Tech Bulldog opened with a pair of 63s, to move past first-round leader Cameron Smith, who opened with 62. Scores in the low 60s went away on the weekend, and Cink was able to close with 69-70, and embrace victory. Collin Morikawa stood second to Cink after 54 holes, but showed surprising weakness on Sunday. the 2020 PGA titleist and 2021 WGC-Workday winner ran out of birdies on day four, and limped home with 72 for T-7.
LPGA Tour: Ko breaks three-year drought with seven-shot margin
There was a time when Lydia Ko did the things she did this week, on the regular. Three wins in 2014, followed by five in 2015 and four the next season, gave us a sense of what might be generational dominance. As she reached age eighteen, the wins vanished. Ko went two years without a victory, but claimed a playoff triumph in 2018. Throughout 2021, traces of the old/young Ko returned, and it became a matter of time until she won again. Two weeks ago, she chased Patty Tavatanakit to the 72nd green at ANA Inspiration, and settled for a runner-up finish.
After this week’s resurgence, the principal question is: how far back has Lydia Ko returned? A seven-shot, runaway victory over the tour’s top talent is more than just a comeback; it’s a statement. Nelly Korda, Inbee Park, and Sei Young Kim tied with Leona Maguire for second, a touchdown and extra point behind. They played well, but mull these numbers turned in by Ko on the week: one bogey in 72 holes (hole eleven on Thursday); three bogey-free round; 29 birdies in 72 holes, with no fewer than six on any of her four scorecards. Yup, that’s a statement. Should be a fun 2021, if Lydia Ko finds the road all the way back.
European Tour: Catlin wins Austrian Open playoff over Kieffer
Talk about a buried lede. While it’s true what the headline says, it’s barely the story. There was a playoff, but we’ll get to that. John Catlin had two previous wins on the European Tour, while Max Kieffer came close in 2013, losing a playoff for the Spain Open. In regulation time, Kieffer staked an early advantage, playing the first seven holes in six-under, highlighted by an eagle at the 4th. Bogey at 9 and 11 slowed his roll, but he rebounded with birdie at 13 and 15, to reach minus-fourteen on the week. Catlin was flawless over his 18 holes, pairing seven birdies with eleven pars, for day-low honors and his own place at the 14-deep table. Both surged past third-round leaders Martin Kaymer (70 for solo third) and Alejandro Cañizares (74 for t-seventh) and gained a spot in a playoff. That’s when the fun began.
The 18th hole at the Diamond Country Club, near Vienna, is a par three over water, with a solitary bunker on the right edge of the green. Catlin and Kieffer reached the green in regulation the first three (yup, there were more) turns through. Par and par were followed by birdie, and back to the tee they went for a fourth time. On the fourth occasion, Catlin found the sand, but went up and down for par. Kieffer once again found the putting surface, but was unable to coax his putt for two into the hole. On tour the fifth, Catlin once again found sand, but Kieffer did him one better. In this case, it was three worse.
Kieffer’s tee ball came up short of the fronting wall, and found water. His pitch from the drop zone landed pin high, and spun back into the water. His second pitch, his fifth shot, landed twenty feet beyond the flag, then spun even harder, once again back into the drink. Exasperated, Kieffer took the juice off his third pitch, landed on the green, then made the putt for an inglorious eight. Dumbfounded by his good fortune, Catlin pitched out of the sand, took two putts for bogey, and claimed his third European Tour title.
Korn Ferry Tour: Uihlein claims second stateside win at MGM Resorts
Peter Uihlein might qualify as one of the top professional golf stories of the last decade. After a decorated amateur career, in which he won the US Amateur and shined for the USA side at the 2009 Merion Walker Cup matches, Uihlein landed in Europe, where he played the Challenge and Main tours for seven years. Uihlein won twice in the old country, then returned to the USA for the 2017-2018 season. He has remained in his home country ever since, amassing a number of top-twenty finishes on the PGA and Korn Ferry tours, including a win at the 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital championship.
This week, the 31-year old returned to the winner’s circle in Las Vegas, claiming the title by four strokes over a former European Tour rival from the states, David Lipsky, and Jamie Lovemark. Uihlein opened with 68, and stood two shots out of the first-round lead. He improved a stroke on day two, but lost a shot to the lead, as Adam Svensson jumped up with 64. The Canadian struggled on the weekend, finishing with 72-78 for a 22nd-place finish. Uihlein established himself on day three with another 68, one shot ahead of Jamie Lovemark, a fellow US Amateur champion. The two would match wits on day four, and the front nine would write the story.
Uihlein was clean through nine, posting four birdies and five pars. Lovemark had three birdies of his own, but stumbled with four bogeys on four other holes. As Lovemark faded, Lipsky arrived. The 2010 Big Ten champion, an amateur contemporary of Uihlein, gained a stroke on the eventual winner on the outward half. He was all pars from 10 through 14, then gained two more strokes at 15 and 16. After a fifth birdie at the 11th, Uihlein’s played the final seven holes in plus-two, bringing the final margin to four shots and making the final result closer than it appeared.
Champions Tour: Stricker secures sixth senior title at Chubb
Steven Charles Stricker can be forgiven for a dearth of Champions Tour titles over the past 24 months. As captain of the 2021 (nee 2020) USA Ryder Cup side, Stricker has played a majority of weeks on the regular tour, scouting the talent. When Covid-19 pushed the team matches a year, Stricker was compelled to extend his stay with the young-uns a bit longer. This week, the Wisconsin native logged in to the west-coast Florida stop on the experienced tour, and came away with a one-shot victory.
Fred Couples led the show for two rounds, posting 63-69. He continued his downward trend on Sunday with 71, and dropped five slots, to a tie for sixth position. Fellow super-senior Bernhard Langer started strong, with 65-68, but experienced day the last struggles of his own, and tied Couples for sixth after a 70 of his own. Sweden’s Robert Karlsson stood equal with Couples after 36 holes, and provided Stricker’s most formidable challenge on the final day.
On Sunday, Stricker found his finest form, posting five birdies against zero bogies for 67. Karlsson also signed for a quintet of birdies on Sunday, but stumbled with a pair of bogies, at the 7th and 14th holes. Those missteps flipped the two golfers’ positions, and the Mayor of Madison escaped with a one-shot win.
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Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (10.5 degrees @ 9 degrees) Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD HD 7 X 3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium...
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Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @7, Big -) Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX (45.25 inches, tipped 1.5 inch)...
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