David Feherty is a CBS golf analyst, the host of his own show on the Golf Channel and now the star of a golf-themed campaign for Hyundai. We spoke with Feherty about his thoughts on the upcoming season, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlory and more.
ThePostGame: As a former professional golfer turned broadcaster, what is going through your mind at the start of the season?
DAVID FEHERTY: People refer to me as a former professional golfer. I'm still a professional golfer. I've been one for 38 years. I just don't play. I'm a player with a microphone. The start of the season is kind of like going back to school except I look forward to this.
TPG: What is the top storyline in 2015?
FEHERTY: Everyone's wondering whether Tiger Woods is going to be healthy or not. That's the issue. It's been a long time since he's been durable. It's been a long time since he played well. People seem to have forgotten what happens when Tiger Woods plays well, and that's that no one else can win.
TPG: Do you think Tiger can be a factor in 2015?
FEHERTY: He's got a new coach and hopefully he's going to be making a swing that's going to be easier on his body. The only mistakes I've ever made about Tiger Woods is that I've underestimated him. I was there watching him at that amazing spell at the turn of the century and he was like another creature from a different planet. If he gets anywhere close to that form, people are going to remember it in a hurry.
TPG: How frustrating are Tiger's recent struggles for him and for fans to watch?
FEHERTY: I think it's incredibly frustrating for both categories. People always ask me is Tiger ever going to get back and people were asking me this when he was No. 1 in the world. He doesn't need to play at the top of his game to be No. 1. He was so dominant in a game that you're not supposed to be able to be dominant. It's not like tennis when you're playing one game at a time.
TPG: Do you have patience for people who have written off a 39-year-old Tiger Woods?
FEHERTY: I've got patience, but I don't agree with them. Jack Nicklaus won his last major at 46. It all boils down to how durable his body is. If he is in good shape, I still think that record Jack has is in danger.
TPG: How close is Rory McIlory to being "a creature from a different planet?"
FEHERTY: The closest I've ever seen since Tiger. He's a beautiful thing to watch. I'm an ambassador for Hyundai, but he's an ambassador for the game. He's just a fantastic kid. He plays so beautifully. He represents the game so well. He's a mother's dream.
TPG: As a native of Northern Island, what does he mean for the nation?
FEHERTY: We're incredibly proud of him. I was the assistant pro at the golf club (Holywood Golf Club) he grew up at 19 years before the bastard was born. We have Darren [Clarke] and Graeme McDowell too. It's an amazing run of players they had. You could put me in that category, as well, but I concentrated on the minors.
TPG: Do you think Rory will pick up where he left off in 2015?
FEHERTY: I think he'll be a huge factor in the Masters this year. He really is driven and people forget the kind of meltdown he had in 2011. He'll want some payback for that. He has tremendous will power. If he's not in contention, I'd be very surprised.
TPG: Dustin Johnson was suspended last season for six months after failing a third drug test. Do you know how he is doing and how do you think he will come back from the suspension?
FEHERTY: I honestly don't know how Dustin's doing. I think our sport is great and full of great players. They're human. He's a really talented kid. I mean, really talented. With this time off that he's had, I imagine he's going to be real hungry coming back.
TPG: Do you have a surprise player for the 2015 season?
FEHERTY: We saw in the Ryder Cup, Patrick Reed, who won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, really has turned into one of the very best players in the world, and of course, he is famous for saying that's exactly what it was. Hey, it's not bragging if he backs it up. We've also got Harris English, Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk, who are all players on the rise. I think this season is a great mix of stories with [Phil] Mickelson and Woods able to do what they do and these youngsters coming up.
TPG: Do you think Phil has anything left in the tank?
FEHERTY: I think Phil's got a lot left, but you never know whether he's got his foot down on the accelerator or half on the break. That's what makes him so compelling to watch. He's so brilliant and he can make some of the mistakes you and I might make, as well.
TPG: Europe beat the U.S. handily in this past fall's Ryder Cup and has done so for the last decade. Is Europe the stronger golf power?
FEHERTY: I think Europe's stronger. There's no question about that. The needle will swing the other way again, though. With the new crop of players coming up, I think you should expect to see the United States do much better.
TPG: When you look at the majors schedule for 2015, do any courses jump out at you as fitting a particular player.
FEHERTY: St. Andrew's jumps out of me. Rory McIlroy, at Augusta and at St. Andrews, the way that he drives the ball ... People think you can hit the ball anywhere at St. Andrews because it's so open, but where they put the flagsticks, there's about a 25-yard strip you need to be in. He hits the ball so far and so straight and he's played so well, it's hard to see anyone else being a favorite at the British Open.
TPG: Your show, Feherty, is back on The Golf Channel this season. What should fans expect this year?
FEHERTY: We've got a lot of great guests. Al Michaels, Lance Armstong and some football guests. We've got some live shows. I'm debuting my ad campaign with Hyundai and some commercials we filmed. Those will go live right after the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
TPG: You recently became Hyundai's first golf ambassador. What does that role entail?
FEHERTY: I'm just hoping they'll be no diplomacy involved or I'll be screwed. I'll be giving some driving tips on both driving a golf ball and driving a Hyundai in commercials. I'm going to be the face of Hyundai golf and give my two cents to their golf initiatives. Earlier this month, I was at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and emceed an event with Kelly Clarkson.
TPG: Did you and Kelly sing a duet?
FEHERTY: No! I did train to be an opera singer, but I had the good sense to realize, the last thing the world needed was another mediocre Irish tenor clutching the bar and butchering 'Danny Boy.'
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.