Silver-tongued Feherty gets own chat show


GOLF: PHILIP REIDtalks to the now US citizen and friend of the country’s military ahead of his new golf-themed show

THE LIVE show is over, and David Feherty – clad in jeans and navy blazer – sits on the theatre stage of the American University in Washington DC with his legs dangling over the edge. A glass of coke and ice with his surname, and the title of his new television show, is alongside him: Feherty, in bold lettering it proclaims. It couldn’t be anyone else.

Feherty, five years sober as he reminds you on a number of occasions, is a man of many talents. He was trained as an opera singer but doesn’t sing these days. “If I sang now, I’d be crap. But I was good. I had to make a decision – did the world need another mediocre Irish tenor clutching the bar and butchering Danny Boy or did the world need a 17-year-old five-handicap turning pro?”

No, he took the route into golf, won tournaments on the European Tour – and, after one win, lost the Scottish Open trophy on what he calls “a bender” – and became a Ryder Cup player. The Scottish Open trophy, incidentally, was never found again; and the golfer from Bangor in Co Down found he was better behind a television mike than actually hitting golf shots.

He was the one who dubbed Colin Montgomerie “‘Mrs Doubtfire” and was blamed by the Scot for causing him to lose titles in the States as fans yelled at Monty to “show us your tits”.

In America these days, he is the one who sexes up the TV commentaries with an irreverent wit that has made him a household name whilst at the same time being trusted – with the odd exception – by the world’s top players. He has also become more American than the Americans themselves, retaining his Ulster accent but taking up US citizenship and becoming a huge supporter of the US military and those injured in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s a cause close to his heart; and the feeling is reciprocal, evidenced by a presentation of a bronze sculpture – an older soldier protecting the back of a young soldier – at the end of his stage show and, later, proffered a Green Berets baseball cap which is immediately placed on his head.

Feherty’s new golf-themed chat show is due to launch on the Golf Channel in the US next week and among those lined up as guests – or victims – are Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and basketball legend Charles Barkley. Think Jay Leno or David Letterman with a golf theme, and a lot more besides.

For Feherty, it’s another step in a broadcasting career that grows bigger and bigger. As he explained, “My head is so full of stuff, things that come into my head and this is a chance to actually have some recorded and see if some people find them funny, entertaining, or poignant. It isn’t just the ridiculous side of golf. I do ask people questions, not so much tough questions, but awkward ones at times. Questions that interest me that might not occur to other people. It’s been a hell of a process, I feel like someone has pulled a Christmas tree out of my ass backwards.”

And, of course, the one player he’d love to get to agree to an interview is Tiger Woods. It hasn’t happened yet, though. “What would I ask him? I’d ask him if he could change one thing in his life, what would it be. I’d ask him if he confused fun with happiness and thought they were the same thing. I’m an addict and that’s what I did.

“I thought fun and happiness were the same thing but they’re not. They’re entirely different. That’s a common thing among all addicts. They are always getting those two things mixed up. When you confuse fun and happiness, you get unhappiness.”