In THR\"s yearly Sports Issue, the golf analyst opens up around his struggles with addiction, his inability to censor himself and also the reason he thinks Tiger Woods is misunderstood.
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This story very first appeared in the July 25 concern of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
“Anybody desire some drugs?”
David Feherty is rummaging v his backpack. He’s diving in come look for his phone so he can show me a picture of his mother, Vi. She to be visiting indigenous their residence in north Ireland recently and also Feherty, the Golf Channel personality and CBS sporting activities analyst, took her to the range. The shoot range, that is.
Phone located, he brings up a photograph of an octogenarian with a shock that white hair. In the image, she is grinning, lied on the ground, rifle propped up, peering with the scope.
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“Look at that,” that beams. “Eighty-five years old!”
Feherty spends significant time shoot things various other than his weekly show. He presently is obsessed with searching wild hogs near his phibìc Dallas home. To that end, he provides custom bolt-action rifles and also ammunition in his garage. That does all this throughout predawn hours when his unquiet psychic rousts him from sleep or — together he puts the — “the tape starts playing.”
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His is not a cheerful playlist. Feherty has been diagnosed v bipolar disorder and also has to be a full-blown alcoholic, quickly sucking down two bottles the Bushmills a day. He has taken dozens the pills — uppers, downers — daily.
“He’s obtained every step of psychosis over there is,” observes his friend and CBS golf partner Gary McCord. “He jumps indigenous one
His backpack includes a pharmacy: He’s acquired Abilify, Xanax and also Klonopin. Isn’t Klonopin an anti-psychotic? ns ask.
“It’s an industrial strength anti-anxiety,” that merrily corrects.
Luckily, the dark locations of Feherty’s psyche haven’t derailed his career in a sportscasting genre recognized for buttoned-up decorum. Instead, his wry, subversive worldview and also habit of express every thought that pops into his mind have identified him indigenous his peers and earned him soldier of fans.
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“David is distinctive in the world of sporting activities analysts,” observes Sean McManus, CBS sporting activities chairman. “He’s part athlete, component expert, part comedian and part social commentator.”
In a milieu drown in cliche, Feherty is a true original qualified of greatness — if the doesn’t damage himself first.
The center child of three, he was introduced to golf through his father, Billy, a surveyor on the Belfast docks. Feherty began caddying because that his dad when he to be 10. 7 years later, the dropped the end of school and turned pro.
The drinking had begun when he was 16, and also soon he was equally serious around golf and booze. At period 32, that captained the irish team that won the 1990 Dunhill Cup. He additionally was a raging alcoholic who drank “savagely.” There to be drugs, too. “Painkillers were my medicine of choice,” that says. “Two and also a fifty percent bottles that whiskey and also 40 Vicodin a day. I just obtained comfortably numb.” Yet thanks to his talent and obsessive compulsive tendencies, Feherty netted 5 European tourism wins, several various other championships and also $3 million in prize money.
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“I didn’t recognize whether i was brothers or Irish till I to be 32 years old since I’m from north Ireland and you could have dual citizenship,” that says. “I never really thought about it much.” however when he experienced the ireland flag elevated at the winner’s ceremony at the Dunhill Cup, the hit him. “I gained this bump in my throat,” he says. “I thought, ‘Shit, I’m Irish.’ “
Feherty, 55, says alcoholism and also undiagnosed mental disease run deep in his family. “My father to be a pretty heavy drinker. Further back, divine shit, it to be a freak show.” Today, Feherty’s dad has Alzheimer’s; the last time he witnessed him was last fall. A 2005 expedition to north Ireland for his father’s 80th birthday kicked off a bender that lasted 2 weeks.
Feherty emigrated to America in 1993, adhering to his first wife, a southern African beauty queen who had actually moved come Texas v their two sons while the was play at the German Open. He says the marital relationship essentially dissolved in 1995.
He met his 2nd wife, Anita, through common friends in Dallas the following year — he was “permanently hammered” earlier then. The very first date to be a fiasco, but the Mississippi native provided him another chance. His initial failed attempt to obtain clean came after he retirement from play in 1996. Feherty to be on and off the wagon for years, yet when their daughter Erin (now 16) was a toddler, Anita approve an ultimatum. “She saved my life,” claims Feherty, who had actually his last drink eight year ago.
Feherty now appears to have accomplished some equilibrium in a life marked by mania, but he still struggles to stay on the appropriate path. “All of united state at CBS sort of pull together and shot to store him sane,” states McCord.
That procedure can it is in strange. One night in san Diego a couple of years ago, once they to be hosting a CBS late-night golf highlights show, McCord says he was ago at the hotel as soon as Feherty referred to as to asking if he might come by since “the minibar is beginning to talk to me.” McCord continues: “I went, ‘All right. Which over.’ I’m
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In 2011, Feherty was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, suddenly providing a clinical explanation for all the drama. Today, he consumes huge amounts that prescribed drugs — more than a dozen pills a day — to manage his psychological illness.
“It’s the classic addict’s dilemma,” the says. “Whenever you have actually a period of obtaining it right, you think, ‘I don’t require this anymore.’ Well, I’m walking to need it for the rest of mine life.”
The frank talk about addiction is one means Feherty stands out from a typical jock-turned-sportscaster. He’s written 6 books, including a novel. He reads voraciously (Seamus Heaney, Carl Hiaasen), loves opera (as a boy, he to be trained as an opera singer) and has substantial vinyl arsenal that arrays from Verdi to Tom Waits. Quite than working as an anchor behind a desk, the walks the golf course through the competition leaders.
“David’s sense of feeling is a mix between Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams,” claims McManus. “It’s almost stream that consciousness.”
He loves the immediate metaphor. On friend Tiger Woods‘ trouble off the tee: “I’m not sure he might hit the sea off an plane carrier.” top top Jim Furyk‘s quirky swing: “
He is unafraid come express a disdain because that the game. He claims he never watches the on TV and doesn’t own a set of golf clubs. “Golf is such a boring sport,” that says. “I can’t think I played it for 22 years because that a living.”
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On Feherty, his weekly Golf Channel interview routine that debuted in 2011, he has questioned everyone from golf greats Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus (both nearby friends) to Jack Welch, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Charlie Rose and also the infamously media-averse Larry David. Feherty’s disarming candor and also self-flagellation have actually won him fans among the game’s celebrity devotees prefer Bill Clinton (who likewise was an interview subject). He’d love to get Caddyshack legend Bill Murray and also Justin Timberlake top top the show. And also he’d prefer to sit under for a heart-to-heart through Woods. “I know a an extremely different Tiger Woods, and also I would prefer to have the ability to reveal that, ” the says. “But ns don’t really desire him top top the show until he’s able to do it. I desire him to it is in vulnerable.”
Feherty also has aspirations to organize a subject Daily Show-esque program. Because that now, the satisfies his itch come transcend golf talk through David Feherty Live, a series of specials that the Golf Channel released in 2012. Essentially a traveling stage show, the routine hews closely to the classic variety format, v an opening monologue, weird stunts and also celebrity interviews.
Feherty overflows v opinions. A politics independent and brand-new U.S. Citizens who sustained Clinton and George W. Bush, he says he didn’t vote in 2012 since “I didn’t have actually anyone to vote for.” A self-proclaimed atheist increased in a protestant household, he abhors fundamentalism. That writes turn off the Tea Party together “religious nutcases.” and also he thinks the pillorying the Woods challenged when the superstar’s infidelities exploded into public see was partly urged by race: “It’s still a rich white man’s game.”
Alas, it’s not easy being Feherty’s boss. McManus says he occasionally has actually the you-can’t-say-that talk through Feherty. And Golf Channel president Mike McCarley jokes around the stress of rental Feherty: “I recall thinking, ‘I may need to fire him and also I may acquire fired because he’s going come say other crazy.’ “
In fact, Feherty sparked one uproar, faced public rebukes from CBS Sports and also the PGA Tour and also apologized because that a 2009 rant in D Magazine about Bush’s go back to Dallas after ~ leaving the White house — it contained a bizarre Nancy Pelosi–Harry Reid–Osama bin Laden fatality fantasy yarn.
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Feherty brushes off pertains to that he crosses the line. “People don’t take me seriously,” that says. “It’s one point that I’ve got going because that me.”
Feherty’s self-deprecating streak appears to insulate the from the ethical outrage that has actually felled numerous sportscasters. And also if he’s aware that he’s constantly go the edge of acceptable public discourse, he simply can’t assist himself. Together a passenger on a 45-minute ride from Randall’s Island right into Manhattan, Feherty toggles between a Twitter chat and also radio interviews to promote CBS Sports’ coverage of a tournament. “Apologize come them if ns sound like I’m in a windy toilet. I’m no George Michael,” the says, explaining the poor sound on his BlackBerry’s speaker.
When the topic transforms to tennis, Feherty speak me: “I shook hands through Martina Navratilova once and it ruined my sex life for 2 weeks.” He easily corrects himself: “It was in reality Chris Evert. I blamed the wrong tennis player.”
And then he exhibits a flash of self-awareness. “People intend you to it is in a certain way,” he says. “You’re basically playing a part. Meanwhile, I’m simply a miserable motherf–er.”
Is it tiring to constantly play the court jester? ns ask. “Exhausting,” he replies. “I’m usually trying to obtain myself fired.”
That will be tested soon, as the CAA-repped Feherty is to start contract talks v CBS sports this year. His existing Golf Channel transaction was negotiated as Comcast remained in the process of acquiring NBCUniversal, which since has created brand-new synergy between the Comcast-originated Golf Channel and also NBC sports Group, v the cable network’s personalities appearing on signature NBC tournaments. Feherty, however, is exclusive to CBS on broadcast TV. And also while NBC sports in June transfer its final U.S. Open — Fox sporting activities poached those legal rights last year in an industry-rattling $1 billion, 12-year transaction — NBC still has actually the Ryder Cup through 2030. CBS, meanwhile, has actually such marquee occasions as The Masters and also PGA Championship.
“I would certainly hope
Sources say there have been no official talks around locking Feherty into an exclusive attend to NBC and Golf Channel. And also those close come Feherty suggest out the his background and comfort level at CBS sports is paramount. “I was born in ~ CBS,” says Feherty, “and expect to dice there.”
Feherty’s success appears to transcend sports and also entertainment — the seems bigger than his barbed humor, smart analysis or dark edges. Possibly it reflects how his journey toward recovery is play out — or reflects that for every his antics, his humankind is unmistakable.
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He has done comprehensive work through veterans since 2005, as soon as he an initial visited Iraq together part
of the USA Tour. (That trip inspired him to apply for U.S. Citizenship, which the earned in 2010.) Feherty additionally started the Troops very first Foundation through Rick Kell in 2008. “I prospered up in north Ireland — it to be a battle zone,” the says. “There were troops top top the street. They to be fighting an foe that hid behind women and also children, that wouldn’t wear a uniform. Sectarian murders, bombs walk off, it all seems familiar to me, the war in Iraq.” In honor of his outreach come veterans, last year Feherty earn the U.S. Army’s exceptional Civilian business Award, among the highest possible awards the military can offer a civilian.
He’s also become an inspiration for recovering addicts. Golf Channel chef McCarley recalls a meeting v Feherty throughout planning for the interview show. “He’s obtained everyone in the room in stitches,” states McCarley. “As everyone left my office, i said, ‘David, hang earlier a second.’ ns said, ‘You can be funny, yet you’ve acquired to find a moment in every present where there’s a real, life emotion, whereby there’s real heart.’ and he speak me this story of just how his daughter