24 Hours with David Feherty

24 Hours with David Feherty

February 6, 2003 — Pebble Beach, California

9:00 a.m. David Feherty, occupant of room 306 of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, wakes from a cold-medicine-induced coma with a Breathe Right strip on his nose and a pounding sinus headache. His bedhead makes him look like a distant cousin of Don King — “an intriguing possibility, but ultimately unlikely,” says Feherty, who is hoping to get through the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am without his cold getting worse.

9:32 a.m. Breakfast arrives: a cheese-and-onion omelet and a toasted bagel with cream cheese. The omelet adds to an already ripening funk; Feherty has left the “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door, so the room hasn’t been cleaned in 48 hours. There are two queen-size beds. Feherty uses one for sleeping and the other as a repository; it’s strewn with loose papers, towels, and dirty laundry.

Feherty does voice-overs for the late-night highlights show. Fred Vuich

10:10 a.m. Feherty sprawls on the bed and reads the San Francisco Examiner, warming up his mouth and his mind in the process. “Martha Burk wants us to stop televising The Masters because it’s a disservice to women,” the Irishman says in his lilting Belfast brogue. “Has she seen The Bachelorette?”

10:15 a.m. Out of nowhere, Feherty mentions that he doesn’t wear underwear. The photographer asks if he wants the empty beer bottle on the night table out of the picture. “It’s part of my breakfast,” he says. “Leave it in.”

10:53 a.m. Showered, shaved, and late, Feherty arrives at the CBS television compound adjacent to the 3rd fairway at Pebble Beach. He’s scheduled to be in the 17th-green tower in seven minutes to rehearse the first-round telecast, which will run from noon to three. Feherty takes off in a cart. He doesn’t get too far before bouncing it off a small tree, then getting it stuck on a spike that holds up the CBS food tent. “The hell with it,” he says. “We’ll take Lanny (Wadkins)’s cart.”

10:59 a.m. Feherty climbs into the tower at 17. He greets his spotter, 40-year veteran Ron Thow, and the cameraman, Bob Wishnie, then sits down and puts on a headset. Because he is neither in the 18th-hole tower nor in his weekend role as on-course reporter, Feherty will not appear on camera. He asks Wishnie for aspirin, then puts a fresh Breathe Right strip on his nose.

11:00 a.m. The team for the USA Network broadcast — Feherty, Bill Macatee, Peter Kostis, Gary McCord, and Jim Gallagher Jr. — shoots the bull. Feherty is blaming his cold on frequent French kissing with McCord when Lance Barrow, the gravelly voiced producer for CBS and for USA’s portion of the coverage on Thursday and Friday, cuts in. For the next 15 minutes, Barrow takes the crew members through the networks’ shows they will plug during the telecast. When the promo for CBS’s Profoundly Normal appears on the monitor, Kirstie Alley’s picture has been replaced with Feherty’s, and the title changed to Profoundly Ab-normal.

11:49 a.m. Thow hands Feherty a sheet with the bios and handicaps of all the celebrities in the tournament. Feherty glances at it for nearly 10 seconds before tossing it aside. “I refuse to talk about any amateur,” he pronounces. “My M.O. is to be relentlessly unprepared. If I have to think about things, I’m screwed.”

12:00 a.m. The live telecast begins.

12:09 p.m. Dave Stockton Jr. is about to hit his third shot on the par-5 14th. Barrow throws the call to Feherty, his first of the day. After describing Stockton’s wedge shot, Feherty signs off with, “Let’s go over to Spygass, er, Spyglass.”

12:12 a.m. Voices fly through the headsets. Most of the exchanges occur between Barrow and 18th-hole announcers Macatee and Kostis.

12:19 p.m. Before coming back from a commercial break, Barrow warns Kostis that the USA studio hosts are going to interview him briefly about the transplanted cypress tree by Pebble’s 18th green. Feherty quickly tells Kostis that the branches of a cypress broaden and expand as it gets older, so as the years go by, the new tree will become more and more of a hazard.

12:23 p.m. Kostis tells the host with authority: “Well, as the tree gets older, the branches will broaden and expand, so…” Feherty nods approvingly.

12:28 p.m. Kirk Triplett sinks a putt from off the green on 17 for birdie. As he passes the tower, Feherty gives him a fist pump, then winces. Feherty has a tendinitis-like condition in his left elbow that he attributes to the recoil of his hunting rifle. Besides his busy work schedule, hunting is one of the things that has kept the former Ryder Cupper’s clubs mostly in the closet. “I’m the only person I know to turn down rounds at Augusta National and Cypress Point in the same year,” he quips.

12:52 p.m. Legendary rock star Neil Young is shown contemplating his approach shot on the 18th at Spyglass. Feherty cheers. “I think it’s so cool he’s playing golf,” he says off the air.

1:15 p.m. While Gallagher interviews Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace, Barrow gives him instructions through the headset. “That’s the hardest part of the job,” says Feherty, who conducts the interviews on the weekend. “You’re trying to listen to this guy so you can come up with a follow-up question, but then you have so much background noise, too.” During the break, Feherty tells Gallagher he’s doing remarkably well, then mutters to Wishnie and Thow, “He’s after my job.”

1:22 p.m. USA cuts to a shot of a seagull sunbathing on a rock. As he will do several times during the telecast, Feherty presses a switch to go on the air and interjects. “They found (CBS colleague Bobby) Clampett!” he exclaims.

1:46 p.m. The monitor shows Rocco Mediate taking off his cap briefly. Macatee asks, “Did Rocco get a haircut?” Feherty replies, “Could’ve been. Might have also been brain surgery.” Despite the on-air zingers directed at them, Feherty is very supportive of the players. “I like them all,” he says. “Plus, they’re afraid of me.”

1:58 p.m. During a commercial break, Feherty sits out the banter among the announcers and gazes thoughtfully into the distance. After nearly five minutes, he breaks his silence. “I want to see a bowel monitor,” says the king of non sequiturs. “That’s the relevant organ.”

2:45 p.m. Feherty makes his last call of the day, then rips off his headset.”I am so out of here,” he says, and runs out of the booth.

2:50 p.m. Feherty walks into CBS’s mobile editing studio to record some voice-overs for the late-night highlight show he cohosts with McCord. Producer Chris Svendsen gives Feherty the script for a segment about defending champion Matt Gogel. Feherty stumbles over his lines several times before deciding to wing it. Scriptless, he nails it on the first take.

5:41 p.m. After relaxing in his room for a couple of hours with SportsCenter, Feherty is back at work. The late-night crew is at the Lone Cypress, a landmark on 17 Mile Drive, to tape the show’s wrap-up. McCord immediately starts to rehearse his lines, while Feherty, not interested in rehearsing, eyes the cypress. “It’s a tree stuck in a rock,” he says, somewhat grumpily. The sun is setting, the temperature is dropping into the 40s — not good for a man with a cold — and he hasn’t eaten since breakfast.

6:21 p.m. Dozens of blown takes later, McCord and Feherty finally make it through their lines without a major screw-up. Svendsen decides to wrap. “It’s not great, but it’s not going to get any better,” he says. Shivering, McCord and Feherty sprint to their cars.

7:30 p.m. Back at the trailer for 15 minutes of voice-overs.

7:45 p.m. Svendsen finally has everything he needs for that night’s show. Feherty wolfs down a slice of pizza.

9:03 p.m. Feherty goes to dinner at Casanova’s, a cozy eatery in Carmel. He is in a party of 20 media people, ranging from sportswriters to CBS executives.

9:32 p.m. The entrees arrive. Feherty is asked to give a blessing. The room grows hushed. “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!” Cheers.

10:01 p.m. Brian Murphy, a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle, calls Feherty to his table, where a number of female guests have requested his presence. Feherty abandons the last half of his rib eye to join them. He tells the story of the solid-gold ballmark he lent to Paul McGinley for luck at the 2002 Ryder Cup. “My wife gave it to me on our first wedding anniversary,” he says. “It’s a four-leaf clover with ‘Always end your day with a 69’ engraved on it. I was happy when McGinley made the clinching putt, but I nearly had a heart attack when he jumped into the lake.” The ballmark somehow stayed in McGinley’s pocket during his victory swim, and he eventually returned it to Feherty.

10:38 p.m. Feherty waits outside Casanova’s as a CBS exec settles the rather substantial bill. A couple leaving the restaurant recognize him. “You do a great job,” the man says. “Thank you for knowing who I am,” Feherty responds. Feherty, who had several drinks during dinner, turns to his friends. “Are we going to wander around town making fools of ourselves now?” “No, we’re going to bed,” they say. “OK, then,” says Feherty, shrugging. “I guess I’m going to bed.”

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