Scorecard From The Edge
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It almost goes without saying that he's not universally beloved on tour. His relationship with some pros -- notably Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie -- has been testy. "Sure, I've said Monty has a face like a warthog that's been stung by a wasp, but he knows I like him," Feherty says, "What he doesn't quite understand is why I make fun of him."
The one player he never mocks is Tiger Woods. In the eyes of Feherty, Woods' penile pratfalls are a minor misdeed that should be left to the jurisdiction of his immediate family. "When the s--- hit the fan, people were on Tiger like stink on a dead cat," Feherty grumbles. "Personally, I don't need any explanation from him. There are a lot of questions viewers want answered, but I can't think of one that I haven't heard asked before."
He launches into a disquisition on the falsity of media attention and the mendacity of image-creation that ends with a concession: Feherty never anticipated how long Woods would take to regain form. "People forget how good Tiger is when he plays well," Feherty says. "We mortals cannot conceive of just how stupifyingly brilliant his game was or how thoroughly he changed everything. Tiger won 40 percent of the events he entered! It was like all of a sudden a different species turned up."
Woods' pro debut roughly coincided with Feherty's first appearance as a network analyst. The two became inextricably entwined in 1997 at Pebble Beach. After Woods had gambled in the final round and reached the 18th green with a 3-wood, Feherty asked, "Were you concerned at all by that big blue thing to the left?" He meant the Pacific Ocean.
Since then, he and Woods have remained friendly -- engaging in innumerable if barely audible on-course farting duels -- though not especially intimate. "I've been accused of being so far up Tiger's ass that he can barely make a full swing," says Feherty. From his privileged redoubt, he maintains he's seen a facet of Woods that the public seldom does: an immense vulnerability. "Tiger got so famous so quickly that he had little or no control over the firewall that was built around him," he says. "As a result, who he really is vanished for most of us overnight. I imagine it must be hard for him to live a life in a manner that he may not have chosen, and I think he struggles with it. Just a theory, but he's so much nicer than the general perception of him."
Feherty says he'd love to interview Woods on his show, but "only when he's ready." The guest he most covets is the person he most fears: Bill Murray. Feherty can quote virtually every line from "Caddyshack," a film he credits with exposing golf's "racist, classist" underbelly. To him, Murray is one of the game's most important figures -- his character, Carl Spackler, made the game cool. Feherty acknowledges that Murray is a "nightmare interview," but he wants him on "Feherty" precisely because he's a nightmare interview.
What would you like to be reincarnated as?
Myself. I'd like a mulligan.
In the pooling black night, Feherty and a couple of disabled Green Berets shoulder semi-automatic weapons on the deck of the Texas man-cave. The three of them spend several hours firing off rounds into the darkness. One veteran is a former sniper named -- believe it or not -- John Wayne Walding. He lost part of a leg in 2008 during the Battle of Shok Valley, a 6½-hour firefight in Afghanistan.
Feherty is deeply involved with the Troops First Foundation, a charity that helps wounded soldiers. He's hired Walding to assemble custom rifle stocks in his garage. "I owe so much to David," Walding says. "Every time I'm in a dark spot, he's the one who pulls me out. He's helped me adjust to the new man I am."
Walding calls Feherty a skeptic who questions everything but the dignity and worth of others, and who recognizes an obligation to serve the larger community. Feherty says he hasn't always been that way. "For a long time, I felt the world would be a much better place without me on it," he says. "But I've found that the longer you spend on this planet, the more important the time you have left becomes."
His musings on mortality echo those of the great Irish writer Samuel Beckett. At the end of Beckett's novel Murphy, the protagonist's ashes are to be flushed down the toilet of the Abbey Theater in Dublin. Asked how he'd like to die, Feherty says, "In someone else's sleep. That way, when they woke up, I'd still be alive."