SUN Hockey Pool

'Not right'

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:19 AM ET

Peeking up between chip shots at the Links of GlenEagles' practice green, David Feherty stops to do something completely out of character. He gets serious.

"I'm deeply depressed," said the CBS sports on-course personality and commentator.

"I don't know what I'm going to do without hockey. What are you supposed to do -- watch the silly season in golf? Watch the father-son classic with Johnny Miller and his fat kid? I don't think so."

A former Ryder Cup competitor from Ireland who cites the surprising combination of hockey and hunting as his two passions, the Don Cherry of golf spent yesterday much the same way most other discouraged hockey fans did -- bracing for the lockout.

"(Dallas Stars netminder) Marty Turco called me and he wants to play golf now -- he's heartbroken," said Feherty, who lists Brett Hull, Ron Francis and a host of other NHLers as close pals.

"(Former L.A. Kings coach) Barry Melrose has turned into a golfer, which is terrifying -- smoking his cigar, burning holes in his shirt and setting fire to his hair because there's so much grease in it. Hockey players should not be playing golf this time of year -- it's just not right."

A Dallas resident who watches hockey on the tube whenever he can't attend games live, the roving funnyman covets a strange fascination with a sport he likens to rugby.

"It's the attitude -- they can beat the crap out of each other up and then Derian Hatcher can become a Red Wing," said Feherty, who retired from competitive golf in 1997 to broadcast and jump on a charity tour that included a stop in Cochrane to raise funds for the YWCA and KidSport yesterday.

"The Stanley Cup and the Ryder Cup are the only two pure sporting events left now. They're both about touching that piece of metal and nothing else. Money has nothing to do with it."

Starting tonight, that's all it's about as the ugly business side of sport will see the owners lock out the players at 10 p.m., jeopardizing the bulk, if not all, of the 2004-05 NHL season.

Admittedly unfamiliar with some of the nuances of Canada's game, Feherty explains his love for hockey can be traced back to his Irish roots.

"Really, it's the perfect sport for Northern Ireland," deadpanned Feherty, author of a new book on the Ryder Cup.

"It's like a riot without the bombs."

Drawing parallels between the Irish and Canadians ("they're both funny and weird") Feherty's connections to Canada don't end with the fact his beer of choice is made by Molson and his second cousin is former NHLer Tony McKegney. He has a photo of Tie Domi hanging in his office, he lists Cherry as one of his heroes and one of his closest friends in the world is Mike Weir.

"It's most unusual to be that good a player and still be able to enjoy a few beers -- that's what I love about Mike," said Feherty, whose family recently spent time with the Weirs at their Ontario condo at Taboo.

"People see him as such a little worker out there but he's able to have a lot more fun than people would imagine."

Although he didn't watch Weir's heartbreaking loss at the Canadian Open on the weekend, he could sympathize with the pressure Weir must've felt.

"With all that was going on, the golf course was probably the easiest place for him," grinned Feherty, whose thick accent and quick wit are often the most entertaining components of a CBS golf broadcast.

"It's like me trying to win the Irish Open -- first of all, you're hung over."

That's the feeling most Canadian hockey fans are likely waking up to after last night's World Cup final.

And, as odd as it sounds, a little Irishman en route from Calgary to the Ryder Cup is feeling their pain.


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