Q&A: David Feherty talks Tiger Woods
Longtime announcer will emcee World Golf Hall of Fame ceremony March 9
February 22, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- David Feherty has spent nearly three decades covering Tiger Woods. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
David Feherty was announced Tuesday as the emcee of next month’s World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Tiger Woods, former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, four-time LPGA Tour major winner Susie Maxwell Berning, and trailblazing golf course designer Marion Hollins.
The ceremony is set for March 9 -- the eve of THE PLAYERS Championship -- at PGA TOUR Headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Feherty spoke to PGATOUR.COM by phone from his farm, about 90 minutes south of Dallas, about his long career covering the headliner of the next WGHOF class, 82-time TOUR winner and 15-time major winner Woods.
PGATOUR.COM: How much of your career did you spend covering Tiger?
DAVID FEHERTY: Yeah, well, 20 years with CBS, and it’s been seven now with NBC. He turned pro and I became a broadcaster within a month of each other, and I was assigned his group, it seemed, every time he was on our air. It was the most amazing thing. He made me look like an idiot on several occasions, saying he had to punch out or whatever when he didn’t. I had a front-row seat for the greatest golfer in history.
PGATOUR.COM: One of those times when he proved you wrong, he was in gnarly rough at the last at Firestone South, about 190 out, and you said he couldn’t reach the green. He took a mighty lash with a wedge and knocked it 10 or 15 feet from the pin. You’d left your mic open when Ernie Els, who was playing with him, said something that only later got bleeped out. What did he say?
DAVID FEHERTY: He said, “F--- me.” I campaigned for a long time that we don’t need to show Tiger’s reaction to these shots he hits. It’s the guy he’s playing with, that’s the relevant reaction. That was when Ernie was the second-best player in the world, so you can’t get a more relevant reaction than that.
PGATOUR.COM: You once called Tiger a loser because he hadn’t won, and he went along with it and said he wasn’t even the first loser. At another tournament, this one he did win, you said he played the last three holes “like a $3 violin.” Did he appreciate that you gave him the needle because he was so feared that no one else would?
DAVID FEHERTY: He appreciated when someone gave him the opportunity to be self-deprecating, because he was so much better than everybody else. I think it was difficult for him to talk about it at times because it’s like a broken record. He would make birdie, they would make bogey, the gap would just get wider. Hell, he won a U.S. Open by 15 shots. I remember writing somewhere that the last person to do that was Old Tom Morris and he was playing with a badger’s testicle stuffed with seagull feathers.David Feherty chats with Tiger Woods and teammates at the 2007 Tavistock Cup. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
PGATOUR.COM: Tiger was obviously great, but from the ground, you probably saw that he was even better than everybody thought.
DAVID FEHERTY: That was often the hardest part of my job, giving the viewer a realistic sense of just how difficult it was, how impossible it would be for anybody to do it in that situation. He was the yardstick by which all others measured their inferiority.
PGATOUR.COM: You guys did a set piece in which he was pretending to be annoyed by you, and you were dragged away by security hollering, “I crocheted you a headcover!” Did you have a knack for cracking him up over the years?
DAVID FEHERTY: Yeah, I think so, especially in the early years when he wasn’t so serious. I think the media piled on him so much that as the years went by, he was liable to give less and less, until recently where he’s kind of started to soften again. When you’re that good and nobody else has been that good — people always talk about the comparison between Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Jack Nicklaus told me nobody has ever played golf like Tiger Woods. The way I look at it is Tiger’s the best player who ever lived, Jack’s the greatest champion.
PGATOUR.COM: What’s your plan for the induction ceremony? How are you going to sum up or contextualize the long celestial event that was Tiger Woods?
DAVID FEHERTY: A lot of it is scripted, with gaps in it for me to tell stories. That’s the plan. I’ve written a couple of them already, things I’ve done before. In my standup act I do three or four Tiger stories, and one of them will be included. And there are three other recipients and I’ll have to have material on them, as well.
PGATOUR.COM: You always wanted to have Tiger on your Golf Channel talk show. Did that ever happen?
DAVID FEHERTY: No, I never asked him. He was never in the right place to do the show that I wanted to do with him, and, ironically, he’s probably in that place now. But yeah, I would’ve loved to have had him on the show, obviously.
PGATOUR.COM: You mentioned that you started broadcasting at about the same time he started on the PGA TOUR. What was your first indication just how good he was?
DAVID FEHERTY: I didn’t know a thing about him. When I first heard the name Tiger Woods, I thought, Is that a golf course in India? I didn’t have a clue. But from the minute I laid eyes on him and saw him play a couple holes I thought, That’s different. It was at Cog Hill, in Chicago. It was probably the Saturday; that was the first time I got assigned to his group.
(Editor’s note: Feherty said he’s saving that story for March 9.)
PGATOUR.COM: He hit some shots you didn’t think were possible, and you’d played against Jack and Arnold. Was he was showing off for you? Did he ever turn and throw you a wink?
DAVID FEHERTY: There were a lot of, ‘Yeah, you called that one, didn’t you?’ He showed off for everybody. He just wanted to shoot as low as he possibly could and win by as many as he could every time he went out. I don’t think he’s changed. I expect him to win again and contend in majors. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he’s in the running at St. Andrews (the site of The Open Championship this July).
PGATOUR.COM: You think there will ever be anyone like him?
DAVID FEHERTY: My children won’t see it. Their children probably won’t see it. We evolve in sports; if you put a basketball team from the 60s against a team from today, they’d just get run over. The guys today are just bigger, stronger, faster. Golfers get better. But he was a huge peak on that bell curve, if you like, and I don’t think there’ll be anybody like him for many, many years to come.