David Feherty is a huge Tiger Woods honk (though Rory McIlroy gets plenty of Feherty love, as well — more on that later) who not that long ago was boosting the 14-time major champion to win one more for The Gipper, as well as reclaim his long-since vacated spot atop the official world golf rankings.
So, when Feherty — whom we pegged last year as “the last of the Tiger faithful to call it a day” — calls it a day, things must be rather dire for the still-hobbled 40-year-old Woods. But that’s pretty much what the NBC/Golf Channel analyst and funny man did on Monday during a promotional media tour in Ireland.
“I am not sure that Tiger will come back because it is a nerve in his back. It’s not muscular or skeletal. It’s not something you can deal with in a physical way,” Feherty said about what appeared to him to be Woods’ career-ending back woes that have forced three surgeries, according to Brian Keogh.
“He is in phenomenal shape — just ripped as usual. But he is not able to make a full pass at it,” said Feherty, who was scheduled to be profiled on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on Tuesday night. “I saw him a few weeks ago in Houston and he hadn’t played in five months and he hit some good shots and some awful skanky looking things.”
When the world last saw Woods, courtesy of Golf Channel’s live coverage of the Quicken Loans National media day, he rinsed three consecutive balls using a wedge from the 100-yard 10th tee at Congressional Country Club.
During the exhibition, Tiger swung like a rusty gate, grumbled about being stiff, issued one “Holy cow” and a couple of discernible “Ughs.”
Could that sad display actually be the last time we see Tiger swing a club? Feherty might not bet against it.
“I think he has a feeling that if he doesn’t make it back this time, he might be done from a physical standpoint,” he said. “But he is too stubborn and too good and too physically gifted to be able to just give it up. He loves it too much.”
Noting the tremendous wealth Woods has accumulated over his 20-year professional career, Feherty — a recovering alcoholic who knows a thing or two about addiction — believes Tiger can’t kick the habit.
“There must be something about the game that has a hook because he could buy one of the Bahamas and declare himself a republic,” Feherty observed. “I don’t think he needs to do this. He wants to do this. He really, really does.
“But,” he added, “I am not sure that he can. I am not sure he is in any way clear on whether he can either.”
The Woods chatter arose, by the way, as Feherty was marveling at how smitten he was by the way McIlroy closed out his Irish Open win on Sunday with brilliant shot-making down the stretch.
“It’s hard for me to commentate on Rory in the U.S. without a massive boner because I love the kid and want him to do well,” Feherty gushed.
Despite his infatuation with his Northern Irish countryman who, he predicted, will add a bunch more major titles to his collection despite the level of competition on the PGA Tour, Feherty would still not put him in the same category as today’s 535th-ranked golfer.
“The strength in depth is amazing,” he said. “For Rory to have won four so far is fantastic. We are not going to see another Tiger Woods in my lifetime or my children’s lifetime.
“But Rory can win double figures, absolutely with the shape he is in and the way he swings the club, not doing himself any damage,” Feherty stated. “He has a beautiful free-flowing swing with lots of straight lines, nothing scrunched up or anything.”
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