Feherty II: About last weekend … and what he will tell a golfer on the course, if they care to listen

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(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Steve Stricker hits out of a bunker on the 16th hole during the final round of the John Deere Classic golf tournament at TPC Deere Run on Sunday.

Part II of the David Feherty Q-and-A, in relation to stuff he covered in last weekend’s John Deere Classic for CBS:

== When Steve Stricker had that incredible 184-yard shot out of the trap on the 18th fairway, you were there standing behind him. Why didn’t you tell the viewers that he went from a mashie niblick to a spade mashie instead of just saying he was using a 6 instead of a 7?

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“That’s a difficult question … Well, it’s not a difficult question because they don’t use those clubs anymore sadly. I would love it if golf was still played by the two original rules. You’d still have those clubs to use out of various situations, for what they were invented. It could be very interesting to have a tournament played that way, with all the old equipment. There were rubbing irons to play out of wheel ruts, and horses hoofs, irons with big holes drilled in the face to get out of water.”

== So you can’t use those names because that’s really what they aren’t?

“No. Occasionally, you’ll hear someone say a ’3 metal.’ Drives me nuts. It’s a 3 wood. Doesn’t matter what they’re made of. They call ‘em irons. They’re not made of iron. They’re steel and titanium. Mashie, spoons . . . It’s inaccurate to call them that now. Those are antiques. It would be like calling a car a ‘horseless carriage.’ Which it is, but it isn’t.”

== You referred to Stricker’s stance before that shot as looking like “a giraffe in a water hole.” Not that it’s any kind of double entendre or anything, but are you able to get away with references on TV, maybe because of who you are, or accent, that maybe no one else can get away with?

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“Yeah, I made one this week. I think it was Chez Reavie hit a putt that just finished short, right on the lip, and I said, ‘Oh, just one more Wheatie. One more stick of all-bran. Just to get a little more movement.’ Who’s getting that, really? I got a scolding for it. Anyone who’s thinking that way should be ashamed of themselves. Like me. ‘Stick of all-bran for a little more movement.’ C’mon.”

== One more thing about Sunday’s telecast: Peter Oosterhuis seemed confused about whether Kyle Stanley could ask anyone how close Stricker was to him on the leaderboard before Stanley hit his shot out of the weeds – a one stroke lead or two? And you said, ‘He’s allowed to ask for information, just not for advice.’ And that’s one of those rules where you go, ‘How is anyone supposed to know what’s breaking a rule and what isn’t.’ What to you are the dumbest golf rules in the books today?

“Players do it all the time with me, asking me about the leaderboard. First thing I do when it’s down to the wire, I’ll tell the caddie, ‘Just look at me, and I’ll tell you how many you’ve got (strokes, while holding up fingers).’ I can be a conduit that way so the player knows exactly where he stands. It’s perfectly legal.”

== But ethical?

“Yes, every player knows it’s perfectly OK to ask. When Peter was playing, there weren’t reporters on the ground, or scoreboards. It usually only is something done on the last couple of holes. Players know. When something is happening real time, and he’ll miss a putt, and he’s not able to see (what’s happening in front or behind him), that’s when I step in and say, ‘You’ve got this.’ I’ll tell it to the caddie and he can decide whether or not he wants to give that information. But it’s a service I’d provide for every player. No matter who they were. I don’t think Stanley knew at that point what was going on. I didn’t think he’d take a drop. He’s so immensely strong. He hit a 600-yard par 5 with a driver and a wedge. He shot the front door.”

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== As far as the dumbest rules …

“Hmmm . . . the fact rakes are allowed to be in bunkers. So if a ball comes up and leans up against one on the downslope of the front of the bunker, you move the rake, the ball rolls forward, you’re supposed to replace the ball, but you’re not allowed to embed it. But if you put the ball back where it was, and it rolls forward, you have to drop out on a penalty. Go figure.

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“The last time they played Royal St. Georges, Mark Rowe and Jesper Parnevik were accidentally given by the starter each other’s cards, and they marked the other players score on it, but it just had the wrong names on them. It was all accurate. And they were both disqualified. Now, I mean, these are men playing for their living here. C’mon.

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“But you know we have a rule book that has a 600-page decisions booklet that goes with it. What’s that about. Things have been called on me. “

== What if you see a violation?

“I’ll say it if I see it on TV, or I see it live. Quite often I won’t know what the viewer, or our producer or director see, so I’ll ask, ‘what have you got on that shot? It looked to me like the ball moved or something’ and it happens so seldom and 99 times out of 100 a player will put his hand in the air. And I may not have seen what I thought I saw so I’ll say, You try to protect the production crew when it comes to that, because if we don’t pick it up. …”

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== So are you comfortable enough to say to a player or caddie, if you saw something that could be a penalty, because as a former player, you’d want him to know he’s about to do something wrong?

“Yes. Absolutely. If I see a player liable to break a rule, I’d jump in. So would a referee. That’s the difference between our sport and others. When a referee sees a player about to break a rule, he can jump in. There are so many gray things about the rules, and they’re complicated, but we have the best rules officials of any sport. They’re amazing. If there’s any doubt they’ll give the benefit to the player in the professional game. In the British Open? Not so much. Not knowing a rule isn’t an excuse. The executive director of the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club don’t know the rules. Everyone has to refer to a rule book. There are people who know them better than others. I probably know them better than anyone on our crew, but I haven’t a clue on some of them. Because I have a life, you know.”

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