DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. -- The most decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps, met his idol -- Michael Jordan -- for the first time Monday night during the filming of Feherty Live, an hour-long special that will air Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. Jordan and Phelps joined funnyman David Feherty for the special Ryder Cup-themed show, taped in front of a packed house at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, Ill., near Medinah Country Club, site of this week’s Ryder Cup.
Also appearing on stage with Feherty were former Ryder Cup Captains Lanny Wadkins, Paul Azinger, and Sam Torrance – one of Feherty’s closest friends. MCA recording artist and country singer-Songwriter Josh Kelley and his band also performed.
Prior to the filming of Feherty Live, Phelps – who recently retired from competitive swimming and is turning his passion to golf, where he will be the newest student on Golf Channel’s The Haney Project – had never met Jordan, but has gone on record saying he modeled his career after the six-time NBA champion and basketball Hall-of-Famer. Phelps was speechless when Jordan surprised him and walked on stage.
“Everyone asks when I finally got the chance to meet MJ, what would I say. I was like, I don't know. And I'm like in completely just ‑‑ I don't know what to say.” -- Michael Phelps upon meeting Jordan for the first time.
Feherty, whose critically acclaimed Golf Channel series, Feherty, has been described as “a cross between Oprah Winfrey and Johnny Carson” by The New York Times, has been dubbed “one of the funniest men in the game” by Yahoo! Sports. The third season of Feherty will premiere in early 2013 on Golf Channel.
The off-beat humor and compelling interviews that have become trademarks of David Feherty will be on full display during one of the most anticipated weeks on the 2012 golf calendar. The 39th Ryder Cup, a biennial golf competition, begins Friday at nearby Medinah Country Club. Golf Channel will be there all week, delivering more than 40 hours of news coverage, with NBC airing 16 live hours of Ryder Cup competition on the weekend.
Feherty Live is one of several programming highlights during Ryder Cup Week on Golf Channel, the fastest-growing network on television among those serving more than 80 million homes. War by the Shore, a film documenting the epic 1991 Ryder Cup matches between the U.S.A. and Europe, airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET; and Live From the Ryder Cup and Morning Drive will feature a combination of more than 40 live hours of news, highlights, interviews and analysis surrounding the 39th Ryder Cup matches from Medinah Country Club.
Highlights from the show:
MICHAEL JORDAN ON MICHAEL PHELPS: "I'm truly honored and humbled that he's looked at me as a motivational figure. But I mean, as competitive as we are, we all take our craft very seriously."
DAVID FEHERTY, TALKING IN JEST WITH PHELPS AND JORDAN: “Among the three of us, we have 39 world records. We have 22 Olympic Golds, six NBA Championships...and two Irish PGA Championships. And we have four retirements from major competition.”
MICHAEL PHELPS ON WORKING WITH HANK HANEY: “It's like so much to try and process. It's like an overload.”
PAUL AZINGER ON THE 2008 RYDER CUP: “I had a lot of great moments there at Ryder Cup, and my favorite memory, of course, is being on the balcony in 2008, blasting the champagne.”
AZINGER ON WHETHER ANYTHING TOWERS OVER RYDER CUP PRESSURE: “I don't think there is. When I play for anything other than personal pride and representing your nation ‑‑ I encourage all of you who are going to be at the matches to try to get there early on either Friday or Saturday -- but I really hope you can all get there early enough on Friday morning to feel the energy and what that first tee is all about. And then imagine trying to hit a ball, when you hear that crowd. Imagine putting yourself in that spot. It's something to behold. I'll tell you what happens, too, at Ryder Cup. You'll see a lot of guys won't win major championships until they play Ryder Cups. There's something about being on that stage and dealing with that pressure that propels players to greatness I think. And there's only a few guys that will win majors before they play Ryder Cups. It's one of the greatest, most fearful stages you can be on. It's a scary place.”
AZINGER ON SEVE BALLESTEROS: “You know the thing about Seve, my experiences with Seve prior to playing Ryder Cup is he really kind of took me almost under his wing after I lost the British Open in 1987. I think he felt for me. And Seve was one of those characters that if he liked you, he would try to make you a better player. I think we all know he made Jose Maria a better player. He was invested in other people all the time. But boy, did that change when I played the Ryder Cup in 1989. All of a sudden, we just hated each other. We were just so passionate and both a little contentious I would say, to say the least.”
LANNY WADKINS ON COMPETING IN THE RYDER CUP: “Just get ready for a fight, No. 1. And No. 2, you know, you have to go out there ‑‑ friendliness is gone. I didn't play Ryder Cups happy. I'm not sure I did a whole lot in golf happy. But Ryder Cups, it was all about how badly can I beat this guy; and if I can beat him that bad, let's beat him worse. They have to take that to heart. If I was going to tell the American Team something right now, it would be to get ready to step on their neck and twist your foot. I mean, that's what I want to see happen...You've got to be mean. It's a whole different attitude. It only comes along once every two years. You've got to want to just take care of business."
WADKINS ON THE U.S. RYDER CUP TEAM: “I really like what Davis did with his picks. I think he went for guys that are putters. And I played on eight teams and captained one and I can tell you every single Ryder Cup I played in, it comes down to putting. This is the best putting American Team I've seen in a long, long time; No. 1. And No. 2, they are playing here in Chicago, you've got to love the Chicago gallery.”
TORRANCE ON THE EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM: “If you had asked me six weeks ago, I would have said America were favorites. But the last six weeks have been fantastic for Europe: Rory winning the major and two other events; Sergio García winning again; seeing Paul Lawrie winning; Kaymer showing a bit of class last week finishing fifth. I think it's going to be very tight.”