Sunday 11 December 2016

Liam Kelly: Feherty backs McIlroy to rack up 10 Major wins

Published 24/05/2016 | 02:30

GolfNow’s Chris Knipe and Dan Higgins pictured with David Feherty at the launch of the ‘Golf for Life’ campaign which offers golfers an opportunity to win a free fourball for the next 30 years on any of GolfNow’s UK and Ireland courses. Photo: Donall Farmer/INPHO
GolfNow’s Chris Knipe and Dan Higgins pictured with David Feherty at the launch of the ‘Golf for Life’ campaign which offers golfers an opportunity to win a free fourball for the next 30 years on any of GolfNow’s UK and Ireland courses. Photo: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Rory McIlroy can achieve double figures in Major championship victories.

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That's the verdict of former Ryder Cup player and highly successful US television commentator David Feherty.

Feherty, an astute observer of golf and golfers, interviewed newly crowned Dubai Duty Free Irish Open champion Rory McIlroy at Carton House yesterday.

McIlroy got no mercy from the irreverent Bangor-born Feherty, who started his career as assistant professional at Holywood GC 19 years before the future four-time Major champion was born.

The Irish Open champion turned up late for the chat with Feherty for the Golf Channel - understandably, after celebrating his epic win in a dramatic finish at The K Club on Sunday.

"He got wrecked, but not totally wrecked. He needed a couple of Advil this morning," said Feherty.

No worries. Feherty is a huge fan and, when Majors are mentioned, he takes an optimistic view.

"For Rory to have won four so far is fantastic. Can he win in double figures? Absolutely," said Feherty. "He's, what, 27? And the shape he's in. . .

"The way Rory swings a club, he's not doing himself any damage. It's a beautiful free-flowing swing, with lots of long straight lines in it.

"There's nothing crunched up in it. There's a number of them in the game now who could win a lot of Majors, but there's a lot of things can go wrong, too.

"It's not getting any easier to win them, that's for sure."

Just over 20 years have passed since Feherty finished up as a Tour pro.

He had won five times on the European Tour and played in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island before a divorce and the loss of his playing rights on the PGA Tour necessitated a new career.

Enter CBS Sports, and a job as an on-course reporter and analyst. Feherty's spiky humour and refusal to be corralled made him a huge hit, and then Tiger Woods came on the scene in 1996. The rest is history.

"I ended up being in the right place when they were looking for somebody in television. I jumped at it," said Feherty.

Last January, he started a new job with NBC Sports and The Golf Channel but the brief is still basically the same - just be himself and keep the viewers informed and entertained.

The Ulsterman got up close and personal regularly with Woods as part of his on-course duties over the years, and right now, Feherty fears the end is nigh.

He believes that the big obstacle after Woods' back operations is that the problem appears to be in soft tissue and nerves.

"I think he has the feeling if he doesn't make it back this time, or it's not successful this time, that he might be done, from a physical standpoint," he said.

All the adverse publicity and negative comment surrounding Woods over the last six years has not affected Tiger's basic love of golf and competition.

"There must be something about the game that has him hooked, because he can buy one of the Bahamas and declare himself a republic," suggested Feherty.

"I'm not sure he's smart enough to give up. He really wants to come back and to win again, and he believes he can, if he's healthy."

Irish Independent

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