SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- During his opening remarks, David Feherty said he felt fortunate that he was addressing the over-50 crowd at the welcome reception competing in the Senior Championship at Golf Channel Am Tour Nationals. After all, the 56-year-old admitted he relates to the older set more.
"I had to be up at 3:30 this morning in Knoxville," he said. "Fortunately it wasn't a problem [waking up] because I'd wet the bed."
It's the Seniors' turn to tee it up at two of Scottsdale's top 36-hole facilities: Talking Stick Golf Club and Grayhawk Golf Club, located 11 miles apart. Golfers of all abilities, but with a similar thirst for competition, have the chance to compete in six different flights, which will the gross low score in each. The Sr. Hogan flight (handicaps 8-11.9) will be the fiercest of the bunch, with 162 players competing for the crystal.
Feherty, who proclaimed himself as the "best 9-handicap to ever play on the PGA Tour," held a Q & A session and was asked by one Am Tour member how to mentally prepare for a four-day tournament.
"I learned a great deal about golf after I stopped playing," he said. "I read putts from farther away (to see a more complete slope of the entire green).
"And the guys that play well are the guys that don't care."
Harder than it sounds, any golfer can agree. And the 53 players return as past national champions, may have a leg up in this department.
But while other Am Tour members applauded Feherty for the unique voice he has brought to golf, it was he who offered heartfelt thanks for as season of charitable donations thru 50/50 raffles throughout the 2013-14 season. He was presented with a check for $102,958 for his Troops First Foundation, a charity that supports wounded veterans.
With opening night festivities now out of the way, the attention now turns to the six flights in the Senior Championship that will award National Champions on Thursday night.
Taking home a crystal trophy stands to be a tall order. With 631 players, 2014 marks the largest senior field in Nationals history. In fact, it's the first time the senior field is larger than the open field in the National Championship's history.
Bill Hughes, from Snellville, Ga., comes to Nationals with the confidence knowing he won a major at Grayhawk. The won the Western Open, held on the Raptor and Talon in June with a two-day total of 167. However, his solid play in 2014, which included two other Major victories, has moved him up a flight for Nationals into the Hogan.
The Arizona local tour, as you'd expect, is rolling deepest this week, with 39 members competing at Nationals with the home field advantage. The Hawaii local tour, surprisingly brings a dozen players to Scottsdale this week. And women make up a larger chunk of the field than in years past with 19 gals teeing it up with the boys.
And lastly, this is the first year marks the first that the Nationals is officially an international affair: Am Tour's newest local tour, the Toronto tour, brings three players to Scottsdale this week: Chris Dopp, Pekka Ojapalo and Peter Rosemann, hoping to have the chance to queue up "O, Canada" come Thursday night.