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An Interview with Chris Riley


September 17, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Chris Riley, ladies and gentlemen, after the morning matches.

Chris, congratulations on the half point. Some thoughts, please, on the morning and we'll go to Q&A.

CHRIS RILEY: No, it was more than I expected, that first tee shot was pretty cool. It brought me back to playing in my first major championship. My knees were about to buckle but luckily I hit it good.

Me and Stewart had a lot of fun out there. It was a total team effort and there was no way I was going to miss that last putt because we played our hearts out all day. I just buckled down and didn't even think about missing it. Just thought about putting a good stroke on it and, you know, it went in the hole, thank goodness.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks. Questions, folks.

Q. What did Hal say to you when he put his arm around you as you walked off the 18th?

CHRIS RILEY: He just said, "That half point might be the difference come Sunday afternoon."

I love Hal Sutton. He's been great to me. He's been everything and more. He's really a great, great captain. He's given me little pep talks all week and I just feel so lucky to be playing for him.

Q. How aware were you of the larger picture all morning?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I was looking at the leader boards and like everyone else, I was pretty shocked what was going on. But you know what, that's just one -- that's one session. I'm looking for my American team to come back strong this afternoon because I think our team has a lot of heart and there's no quit in any of those guys up there in the locker room. You know, I can't wait to go out and cheer them on this afternoon.

Q. It seemed like the European Teammates were having a lot more fun, I don't know if that's just because they were leading or not, but do you get a sense that the American team is not as close as the European Team?

CHRIS RILEY: I can't say what was going on out there, but I know me and Stewart Cink were having a lot of fun. I was walking down each fairway telling him that this is what it's all about.

Our team is as tight as I've ever seen. I've played a lot of team sports, and I feel like these guys are my brothers almost. Team, I think they are my family. I don't think they are a team. These guys are great.

Q. Obviously you're nervous all day, but when you look up at the score board is there an extra burden on your shoulders when you see that you guys are the only one that have a chance at any sort of points?

CHRIS RILEY: Obviously we don't want to get skunked, but I was just playing my game. I'm just happy to contribute to the team.

I'm not even -- I know my team is going to come back and get some points this afternoon, and we might even skunk them. We'll see what happens. I know these guys are playing good. We're going to be hungry.

Q. Having played so well this morning and gotten the point for your team, the half-point for your team, how disappointing is it not to be out there this afternoon playing?

CHRIS RILEY: I'm not disappointed at all. I'm just happy I could help the team out a little bit. I'm going to be out there cheering for my team to do well. I'm not disappointed. I'm glad I'm playing. I mean, you know, I didn't play for a little while, I'm just glad Hal is letting everyone play and everyone deserves to play. We are all great players. It doesn't matter who is out there. I think we can win this thing.

Q. Could you have envisioned, though, that the U.S. would not even lead in the morning matches?

CHRIS RILEY: No. I'm not -- to, me, this is like the first nine holes of the golf tournament with 72 holes left to play.

We're ready.

Q. Could you talk about the chip on the 18th and how daunting of a shot that was?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I told my caddie I was going to hole it and I was trying to think of the Paul Azingers that holed their shots, and Corey Pavin. I actually hit a good chip but it quit breaking. I wasn't thinking about anything but making it.

Q. Just a little bit more about playing for the first time, you played with Stewart Cink, did Stewart say anything to you throughout the round or did he keep you loose or what was that relationship like?

CHRIS RILEY: Stewart is a great champion. We just kept telling each other that's what it's all about and we smiled every time we said it.

You know, I've known Stewart since I was 15 years old. These guys, I feel comfortable playing with any of them.

Q. Your buddy, Chad Campbell, might need a little pick me up, didn't go as well for him this morning as it did for you, I'm trusting you're going to spend a little time with him, rooting him on this afternoon, what will you tell him about what you experienced and how can you pick him up, because you're going to need him?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I'm going to go talk to him to see how his experience was. It was his first day, too. Chad Campbell has a lot of heart. I'm not worried about Chad Campbell. Chad Campbell, he'll be ready the next time he goes out.

Your first Ryder Cup, you know, the nerves and all that, I mean, it's nothing I know that me or Chad has ever experienced. You know, the more you play, the more comfortable you feel, so I'll just talk to Chad and we'll have a nice talk and go from there.

Q. Just curious, Chris, if you could describe your nerves on the first tee and if you were more nervous there or over that 6-foot putt at the end?

CHRIS RILEY: I was more nervous probably on the first tee. I was a little disappointed in myself out there. I had a lot of opportunities to win holes for our team and really, I was -- that was almost the worst we could have done. We had a lot of opportunities out there to make putts and we didn't do it.

I'm actually a little disappointed we didn't win the match. But making that putt on the last hole, it was good.

Q. What kind of nerves on the first tee, can you explain what it was like?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I mean, my knees were about to buckle if I stood over it any longer, so I had to pull the trigger. That's what we play for out here. I was telling Stewart walking down 1, this is what a lot of people, they play for a lot of money in Vegas, getting this adrenaline going. It was just fun.

Q. What's been your biggest surprise this week being a rookie in the Ryder Cup, the nerves on the first tee or some other part of the event?

CHRIS RILEY: Surprise, you mean like playing golf or off the course? Just how nice everybody is. From the wives to the officials to the players. I knew we were going to bond but I didn't know we were going to -- I feel as comfortable around them as I do my own family. You know, it's great just being a part of a team because we don't get to do this. It's just a lot of fun.

Q. A lot of people have been talking about how excitable you are this week and you talk about the first tee, but did you find yourself getting a little bit more comfortable as it went on, because right now you seem pretty calm and collected.

CHRIS RILEY: Absolutely. After the first tee, going down -- after the first shot, I felt good. I'm not going to say all of the nerves went away, but it was -- no, it's intense and you want to do well and, I mean, what an event. Just to be a part of it, it's really cool.

Q. How difficult was it to stay focused throughout your match that was so tight and so intense and yet, look at the score board and see that your other U.S. Teammates weren't fairing as well?

CHRIS RILEY: Me and Stewart just kept saying we needed that one point. You know, this match-play, anything can happen. I'm really looking to see our guys do well this afternoon and I think we're going to have some, you know, good things happen this afternoon. I can't wait to go watch some good golf.

Q. Did you have a 190-yard shot to within two inches? And if so, where was it, what hole?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, on the eighth hole, I hit a driver, 5-iron to about -- yeah, it almost went in the hole. It helped the team win a point, or a hole. I tell you what, to win a point or whatever, it's a good feeling. It feels pretty good to win a point or a hole.

Q. Was this like an inch or two inches?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I mean it was like this. (Indicating an inch).

JULIUS MASON: Chris Riley, folks.

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