David Feherty, a former golfer on the European Tour and PGA Tour, is one of golf's top analysts for CBS and the Golf Channel.
Feherty was born in Northern Ireland but was motivated to have dual citizenship after he visited U.S. troops in Iraq on a 2005 Thanksgiving goodwill tour.
Feherty will be in Oklahoma City to serve as master of ceremonies for the inaugural “Fairways for Freedom” golf tournament Friday at Gaillardia Country Club. Four-man teams will be matched with a golfer from branches of the military in an 18-hole tournament.
The event is a fund raiser to benefit families of Oklahoma soldiers. Funds will be distributed evenly to the Folds of Honor Foundation and Troops First Foundation.
I'm rooting for the Americans (in the Ryder Cup). I've been leaning in that direction for quite a while since my first visit to Iraq. That's the instant I knew I had to be an American... Things changed for me when I came back from the gun range with our armed forces.
The Ryder Cup is unlike anything in golf. You have that flag flying on the first tee and know you're representing it. This event and the Masters are the two events that attract a non-golfing audience. Many people if they watch only one football game it might be the Super Bowl. If they watch only one horse race it's the Kentucky Derby. There are a lot of people that don't watch golf on a regular basis that watch the Masters and the Ryder Cup.
We did a show about the War on the Shore (the Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island, S.C.). People consider that to sort of be the turning point when the Ryder Cup got kind of personal. But I wrote a history of the Ryder Cup and it's always been contentious. Yes, it went to another level but it was 1991 with Desert Storm. There was nationalism, patriotism.
Seve (Ballesteros) was giving us neck rubs (the year I played in the Ryder Cup)... He'd tell us stories. I had known Seve for several years but that one week he made us feel like a teammate. That made all the difference. That week he seemed smaller to me in stature. It was months afterwards that I realized he didn't seem smaller but he made me feel bigger.
The soldiers in Iraq made such a big difference in my life. I was very upset about the way they were being portrayed in our media. I come from an urban warfare environment. Growing up in the '60s and '70s, when I was nine, 10, 11 and 12 there were soldiers on the street, sectarian murders, bombs exploding, an enemy hiding behind women and children.
I was stunned by the good deeds that we — and I can say we now that I'm American — have done. Every American should be proud of the greatest thing one country has ever done for another in the history of the planet — liberating Iraq. Giving the opportunity for half the people there, the females, to be educated, to read books... simple things like drive cars and not have their windows blacked so that other men don't see them so they're not dragged into the streets and beaten. When I saw the restraint our troops were showing over there, and the compassion they showed, and the size and scale of the operation, I was overwhelmed with anger that the American public was not informed.
I couldn't do much for them on those morale trips so I wanted to start a foundation for them when they come home. They have our backs and always have. Since 1776 it's the military that's had our backs to assure our freedom. It's the least we could do is to have their backs when they come home, especially when they're injured.
I'm not sure if Tiger Woods will ever be back to 100 percent of the physical condition he was at the turn of the century when we saw him go on that amazing tear. But I don't think we've seen the end of that sort of golf. Remember we haven't seen him play (really well), yet he still ranks high in the world rankings. He's done it with what seems like mediocre golf. I think Tiger Woods will play well again. I predict he'll win by eight or 10 (shots) again.
Tiger Woods is not the greatest golfer who has ever lived but he's played the greatest golf that anyone has ever played. There's a difference. Jack (Nicklaus) won 18 (majors). You're only as good as those in your time. That record still stands. Jack Nicklaus is the greatest but no one has played greater golf than Tiger Woods. And Jack would be the first one to tell you that.
Bill Russell is a person I felt honored to meet. Arnold Palmer was one. Nelson Mandela was another. When I shook Bill Russell's hand I felt I was in the company of greatness. It wasn't just sports but (Bill Russell) as a human being. One thing he said to me that sticks out was some look at kindness as an act of weakness but true kindness is an act of strength. He played and showed dignity during segregation that was so admirable.
Sniper Golf is a pilot (show) I just finished for the Golf Channel where we combine the two sports, long distance shooting and golf. Playing a bunker shot with a 50 caliber rifle some of the slow motion shots are absolutely unbelievable what these guys can do... Them shooting and me trying to play golf in the middle of it, trying to make a par, it's nothing like anybody has ever seen on television.
This is a great time for golf. We're seeing a changing of the guard with these new younger faces coming up, continually contending every week, guys like Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, Rory McIlroy. Luke Donald is always there. And we still have (Phil) Mickelson, Woods and (Lee) Westwood on the other side (of 30). There are a lot of really good players.