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Collected Wisdom: Golf analyst David Feherty on why he wanted to be an American

DAVID FEHERTY — The CBS and Golf Channel analyst will be in Oklahoma City Friday to serve as master of ceremonies for “Fairways for Freedom,” a golf tournament to raise money for families of Oklahoma soldiers.
BY MIKE BALDWIN Published: September 29, 2012

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.

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