David Feherty: ‘Rory’s Swing Is Beautiful, Relaxed’

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Rory McIlroy (Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy (Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images)

David Feherty, who has top-10 finishes at the Open Championship and PGA Championship on his resume, dealt with severe back problems as a player, just as Tiger Woods is now.

Now 55, Feherty’s advice for Woods, who may or may not play in the PGA Championship this week, can be summed up in three words: proceed with caution.

“Obviously, I (don’t) know how he feels,” the CBS and Golf Channel analyst said on The John Feinstein Show. “I’m sure they can make it possible (with shots and medicine) for him to play the PGA Championship, but what damage do you do when you’re masking that kind of pain? So it’s really up to him, and I know it’s killing him not to play. He really, really wants to play. He’s never, ever faked an injury in his life. Hell, he’s won a U.S. Open with a broken leg. I’d advise him, I believe, not to play – unless he feels he’s not going to do any more damage, if it was a minor tweak. They should be able to tell with an MRI – or the technology they have now – how much damage was done.”

Woods withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, this past Sunday. Woods, 38, has dominated this event in the past, but his black flared up and he couldn’t continue.

But let’s forget the health aspect of this for a second. Given Woods’ performance and mental state, is it even worth playing this week and risking further injury if he’s not in tip-top condition? Wouldn’t he be better off long-term going home, not rushing back and coming back at 39 totally healthy?

“Yeah, you would think so,” Feherty said. “His game, he obviously hasn’t been in good enough shape to get it to where he wants it. Hell, his tee shot on No. 5 last week at Bridgestone, he hit so far behind it I think they counted the shot on the (hole) before. You just don’t see that kind of thing out of him unless there’s something seriously physically wrong with him.”

John Feinstein admits that he’s not as big of a fan of Woods as Feherty is, but he does want to see great players be great – and seeing Woods hobble off the course and into his car on Sunday was not a pretty sight. In fact, it was kind of sad.

“Oh yeah, it is,” Feherty said. “Whether you’re a fan or not, the game’s more exciting with him in it – although I have to say that Rory McIlroy is filling that hole quite admirably. But people have almost forgotten what happens when Tiger Woods plays well. It’s been so long since he’s played well by his own standards.”

The same cannot be said for McIlroy, who was magnificent at the Open Championship and enters the PGA Championship as the favorite. Yes, Feherty, like McIlroy, is from Northern Ireland, but there’s no bias when Feherty speaks of his fellow countryman.

No, there is only fact.

“Yeah, it’s not just about the way that he plays golf, which is incredibly beautiful,” Feherty said of the 25-year-old. “He’s such a good soul. He’s had a great upbringing, and I’ve known his mom and dad forever. He’s every mother’s dream. Tiger was the greatest player I’d ever seen when he came out in ’97 and won the Masters by 12 shots, but Rory McIlroy now has three major championships – and the swing.”

Ah, yes. The swing.

“When you get up close and you have the privilege of watching it, you feel like you’re watching Michelangelo with a hammer and chisel,” Feherty said. “It’s so beautiful and so relaxed. The straight lines he’s got in that swing and just the movement of the big muscles, he allows the club head to pick up its own speed – it looks so effortless. I’m surprised that some of his playing partners don’t just want to cross-check him.”

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