DAVID FEHERTY

David Feherty is an oversized gnome. A pesky and sometimes rambunctious gnome druid who has always loved to laugh. Sporting a full and occasionally well-kempt head of salt-and-pepper hair with a van dyke to match and an unmistakably mischievous glint in his eye, he could be the devil incarnate minus the pitchfork. His sense of humor is dry and and his wit sharp. Sometimes razor-sharp and other times about as sharp as a butter knife, but he never — ever — stops trying. It’s in his nature.

“Watching Phil Mickelson play golf is like watching a drunk chasing a balloon at the edge of a cliff.”

“The Irish don’t dance. We hold each other up.”

“Ray (Allen) starred in He Got Game. Fill in the blank for the movie in which I could star. He Got _______.”

“There’s so much to love about this pic of Ray (Allen) in high school — the hair, the jacket, and how about that shirt? I’ve blacked out most of the 90s in my memory and it’s at times like this when I think that’s not such a bad thing.”

“At the 1991 Ryder Cup, Mark Calcavecchia scored 2.5 points and I scored 1.5. But I also threw up on Lanny Wadkins, so I’d call it a draw.”

“When Jon Lester leads the Cubs to a victory, the team flies a white flag with a blue W. When I was paired against Calcavecchia at the ’89 Open, the flag I flew was just white.”

David Feherty became a professional golfer in 1976, at the tender age of eighteen and played both the European and PGA Tours until his retirement in 1997. In Europe the Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland native notched five victories and twice finished in the European Tour’s Order of Merit top ten, placing tenth in 1989 and eighth in 1990. His best result on the PGA Tour was runner-up to Kenny Perry of the United States at the 1994 New England Classic; Feherty agonizingly finished one stroke behind. His combined career earnings on the golf course registered slightly north of $3 million.

To lend perspective, a recent ESPN All-Time PGA Money List Leaderboard (Golf only — no endorsements) ranked Tiger #1 with $111,489,339 to his credit and Heath Slocum at #100, having earned $15,904,202; the European Tour Career Money List top two are Lee Westwood with $46,407,330 (USD) and Rory McIlroy with $45,618,765 (USD). Edoardo Molinari is #100 on the European hit parade with $7,220,965 (USD) career earnings.

Needless to say when David Feherty decided to give up his day job, replacing lost income quickly became a priority. And with an active mind, a tongue forever wagging and a smile begging to crease his face at any given moment, sportscasting seemed to be just the thing. Like it or not — he does — today Feherty is a renowned television personality. From 1997 through 2015 he served as an on-course reporter for the PGA Tour on CBS and in 2011 he introduced Feherty, a self-titled interview series broadcast by Golf Channel which is owned by the NBC Sports Group subsidiary of NBCUniversal, division of Comcast. He subsequently joined NBC Sports fulltime in 2016.

He is also a columnist, an award-winning author and certainly no stranger to the outspoken stance. A contributor to Golf Magazine and a New York Times and Booksense best-selling author of four books (“A Nasty Bit of Rough”; “Somewhere in Ireland a Village Is Missing an Idiot”; “An Idiot for All Seasons”; and “David Feherty’s Totally Subjective History of the Ryder Cup”) Feherty’s unabashed opinions often invite controversy. In an April 2009 article appearing in D Magazine he decided to wax eloquent on politics, always a road fraught with peril. A Bush supporter, Feherty hurled this grenade in the direction of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid:

“From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.”

In an effort to more clearly define his politics he followed up with this:

“As for me, my politics are somewhere in the middle — and then way outside both wings. I believe in the death penalty, especially for pro-lifers, child molesters, those opposed to gay marriage, and for stupid dancing in the end zone. I believe in the abolition of estate taxes, and the Pickens Plan. I’d lower the legal drinking age and raise the driving age to 18 nationwide, make Kinky Friedman governor of Texas, and make all schools, public and private, start earlier with one hour of physical exercise.”

What you see is pretty much what you get with Feherty but CBS Sports, his employer at the time, was not amused. They distanced themselves from Feherty’s tongue-in-cheek remarks thusly:

“We want to be clear that this column for a Dallas magazine is an unacceptable attempt at humor and is not in any way condoned, endorsed or approved by CBS Sports…David Feherty is an insightful and sometimes humorous commentator for CBS Sports’ golf coverage…however, his attempt at humor in this instance went over the line, and his comments were clearly inappropriate. We hope he will use better judgment in the future.”

As it happened, he wasn’t fired and life went on. Two weeks later Feherty announced the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio for CBS.

“I tell what I think is the truth. It seems easier to me than anything else. Sometimes it comes out as brutally honest and not exactly politically correct. The motive behind it is laziness. I just don’t have the energy. And I don’t know how much time I have left on this planet, but it isn’t long enough to make up shit just to make people happy.”

“Coming from Northern Ireland…a sense of humor is just self-defense in a lot of ways. I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s in an urban warfare environment; people were funny in a dry kind of way. Northern Irish people tend to see the accident from the other side of the street.”

David Feherty has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been both a full-blown, raging alcoholic — two bottles of Bushmills a day — and a pill-popper extraordinaire — dozens of uppers, downers and ‘middlers’ daily. Painkillers appealed to him most. Vicodin and whiskey helped get him “comfortably numb.” His backpack doubled as a mobile pharmacy: Abilify, Xanax, Klonopin. When questioned about the strength of the antipsychotic Klonopin, he impishly corrects his questioner. “It’s an industrial strength anti-anxiety.” Observes his friend and former CBS golf colleague Gary McCord only somewhat in jest, “he’s got every phase of psychosis there is. He jumps from one [addiction] to the other. And finally all the bad stuff is gone. So now he’s shooting feral hogs in the middle of the night [a reference to Feherty’s obsession with hunting wild hogs near his North Dallas home, toting custom bolt-action rifles and ammunition he made with his own hands in his garage during those predawn hours when sleep for him is a but pipedream] — which, by the way, is not going to end well.” So far — and by the grace of God which he would readily admit — the dark corners of Feherty’s psyche have not derailed his burgeoning sportscasting career — or prematurely ended his life. In a genre known for buttoned-to-the-throat decorum and tiresome cliche, he is a true original bound for greatness. Says CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, “he’s part athlete, part expert, part comedian and part social commentator.”

Feherty now 59, has divulged that alcoholism and undiagnosed mental illness course deeply through his lineage. “My father was a pretty heavy drinker. Further back, holy shit, it was a freak show.” Jumping on and off the wagon for years as if it were a discipline of cardiovascular exercise, Feherty hasn’t had a drink in twelve years. If there is such a thing as equilibrium in a manic life, he works to find it every day — with a little help from his friends. McCord recalled a night in San Diego several years ago when the two were hosting a CBS late-night golf highlight show. He was back at the hotel when Feherty called his room to see if he could come by because “the minibar [was] starting to talk to me.” McCord continued: “I went, ‘All right. Come on over.’ I’m [lying in bed]. He comes in, gets underneath the sheets. We had the TV kind of loud and the maid walks in. I went, ‘No. no, no! This is not what it looks like!’ She just looked at us and walked out.” That’s real friendship.

In 2011 when he received the bipolar disorder diagnosis there finally was a clinical explanation for at least some of the drama which preceded it, annoyingly rearing its head all too often. Presently Feherty consumes more than a dozen prescribed pills daily to manage his mental illness. “It’s the classic addict’s dilemma,” he says. “Whenever you have a period of getting it right, you think, ‘I don’t need this anymore.’ Well, I’m going to need it for the rest of my life.” A small price to pay for a man whose sense of humor is described by McManus as “a mix between Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams.”

In fact it’s his wit, charm and unvarnished approach which has vaulted Feherty to the top of his sportscasting game. As for golf, the vehicle in all of this, he concedes that he never watches it on TV and doesn’t own a set of clubs. “Golf is such a boring sport. I can’t believe I played it for 22 years for a living.”

“People don’t take me seriously. It’s one thing that I’ve got going for me.”

— David Feherty on when he invariably crosses the line —

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