“I’ve been in TV now nearly 16 years, and people say, ‘What are your ambitions?’ And I say, ‘I just try to go out every day and try to get fired,’” Feherty tells me. “So far, no one takes me seriously enough to actually get fired, you know?”
Not only is his show returning for another season, but it’s getting bigger, too. Season 2 of Feherty will expand to 18 hourlong episodes and moves to Mondays beginning Feb. 27 at 10pm ET. Last year, Feherty interviewed luminaries from golf, sports and entertainment like Charles Barkley, Greg Norman, Don Cheadle, Tony Romo, Johnny Miller, Rory McIlroy and Tom Watson.
The show will also include more humorous segments that let the CBS Sports golf commentator’s sharp wit and self-deprecatingly funny side shine. “We’re developing some characters for the show that will be used as either bumpers to commercial or rejoins, or separate roll-in pieces that will be sort of in between sections of the interview that will add a little more irreverence and a bit more humor to it, and are very liable to get my ass fired,” Feherty says.
More of our interview with Feherty below:
You were recently in Afghanistan on a trip for your Troops First Foundation. What did you do there?
David Feherty: It was a whirlwind six-day trip where we went to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. There were a couple of times we landed in helicopters and I didn’t know where the f*** we were. There was a good reason for that. I don’t think they wanted civilians to know where we were landing. And some of the men that we met on the ground looked suspiciously unlike Americans, but they spoke with Brooklyn accents and wore man dresses and carried strange-looking weapons. So we met a lot of Special Forces.
Can you give us a preview of some of your guests for Season 2?
DF: I’ve interviewed Bill Russell, up in Seattle. The greatest winner in the history of American sports. I’ve got to tell you, if I had my choice, I would be living with Bill Russell right now. He was such a fascinating man. Spellbinding, and one of the very few people that, over the years, I’ve shaken hands with maybe less than a handful of people that I’ve had the same feeling just from physical contact with their hand.
There’s an aura that Bill Russell has. It’s sort of a mildly electric sort of warmth. It’s very difficult to explain or put into words. But you know that there’s something very special about this man. The last time I felt it I was with Nelson Mandela. Not that I would compare the two or what they’ve been through or whatever. But they’re similar kinds of people. I think Bill Russell affected a great deal more people than he’s aware of by his courage and his inability to back down.
Bill Clinton said that it was a dream of his to be on your show. Anything happening on that front?
DF: He’s very busy and we’re trying to get that nailed down. That’s one of my dreams. I absolutely love the man. I’ve met him before. I would call myself very liberal in social terms and only conservative in a couple of areas: homeland defense and the military, that’s about it. I’m really looking forward to that. He’s just such a likable person. And I think a lot of people that didn’t agree with his policies begrudgingly just have to like him anyway.
Charles Barkley was a guest on your show in Season 1. Has his golf swing improved at all?
DF: I’ve not seen him swing recently. People tend to forget that Charles used to swing the club really well. He was a pretty good player. Hit the ball miles, obviously. He’s not alone with the problem that he has. And it happens at every level. Golfers like Ian Baker Finch, Seve Ballesteros, even Tiger Woods. For the most part, in the past couple years, Tiger Woods, if you put him on the deck of the Nimitz, he couldn’t hit the ocean off the tee.
You know what it is. It’s the yips. You see it with putting. People have a flinch and they don’t do what they set out to do because they’re afraid of the consequences. It can happen with the full swing as well. And with Charles, everything is bigger. He’s a larger-than-life personality and his downswing yip is larger than anyone’s in history, I think. He looks like he’s been Tasered.
What’s the origin of Frank the rooster?
DF: Frank just appeared. That set is an almost exact replica, and much of what’s on the set is actually out of my own office at home. But I don’t know where the hell Frank came from. One day on my desk, all of a sudden he appears. But the news may be bad for Frank because there’s a coyote that’s going to show up on the set this year and I have a funny feeling that Frank is going to be very, very nervous.
Swing coach Hank Haney has a book coming out about his time with Tiger Woods. What was their relationship like?
DF: I’d be lying if I told you that I knew everything about it. I knew that Hank was very, very uncomfortable toward the end of their relationship. But the relationship between a coach and a player is kind of like a caddie and a player, or a husband and a wife.
Sometimes you go through a bad stretch. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest. There’s never anything easy about saying to somebody, “Look, it’s not you. It’s me.” It’s always going to be awkward. Tiger is probably the most difficult person to work with that I’ve seen, but probably one of the most rewarding. If you want to be successful, you have to be in a place where you know you’re going to be uncomfortable, and anyone that takes on Tiger Woods as a client has to want that.
The PGA Tour isn’t making any changes to the FedExCup playoffs this year. Wise decision?
DF: I would like to see all four of them in a row instead of having a week in between here and there. I think in this last year it did work out fairly well apart from that one sort of gap as I recall. We’re now really sort of getting to see it in its not-fully-evolved state. I think there will be minor tweaks from here on.
In creating interest with the end of the season, and effectively the end of our season is when football starts, because football is the 800 pound gorilla. We have to have some kind of a season-ending race if you like to hold viewers or hopefully attract more viewers, because this game is not exempt from becoming less popular. …
I think FedExCup is a good way of keeping players interested — players like Webb Simpson and Camilo Villegas and Rickie Fowler — and these new kids that we’ve coming up look at that end-of-the-season prize. $10 million? Seriously, $10 million? That is a shhhhhpantsload of cash. And if that doesn’t get your interest, then there’s definitely something wrong with the game.
We’re in this strange time in golf — maybe some call it the “post-Tiger era” or some might call it parity — where there are so many players playing at such a high level that it seems like half the field has a shot to win every weekend. Is it good for the game?
DF: I think it is. And I’m not sure that it is parity. There’s a lot of people who have very short memories, and they forget what it’s like when Tiger Woods plays well. Tiger Woods hasn’t played well for two years, two and a half years, maybe. And still he’s finished in the top three or four in The Masters twice, and we’ve seen flashes of what he can do.
If his head is back in shape and his knee is right and he plays well this year, he’ll win seven or eight times. And not only win. We show his reaction to these extraordinary shots that he hits on occasions. And I’ve always maintained that that’s the wrong reaction.
The guy he’s playing with, that’s the reaction you want to show. Because very often I’m standing with that guy, and he’ll watch that shot and I’ll turn and look at him and he’ll look at me and say, “Seriously? Really? I’ve got to do better than that to beat him? I can’t do that.”
But the thing is they have to try, otherwise they look like p***ies. That’s what happens and why he wins by 12 or 15 as he did in a U.S. Open. And the last person to win by 15 in a major championship was Tom Morris in 1860 playing with a badger’s testicle stuffed with seagull feathers. [Editor’s note: Tom Morris Sr. won the 1862 Open Championship by 13 strokes.] It’s just not normal at all. He’s the 500-year flood.
So what happens is you get your second-tier players, who are superb players, the best the world has ever seen. And they’re forced to take on more than they’re capable of, and subsequently, they make bogey, he makes birdie and the gap gets wider. That’s what happens when he plays well and that’s why he can win by so many at times. There’s somebody behind him who’s taken on more than he’s capable of, because they’re not content to play for second. They’re professional golfers with a great deal of pride. I’d be surprised if in the next season or two, we don’t see Tiger Woods not only win a major but win it by double figures.
Photo: Credit: GOLF CHANNEL