An interview with Chris Riley
Riley treated the press to a joke-filled chat Thursday morning.
September 15, 2004
JULIUS MASON: Chris Riley, ladies and gentlemen, the man everybody has been waiting to see.
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, standing room only. (Laughter.)
JULIUS MASON: Chris, I don't think they care to hear what you did on the golf course at all yesterday. They just want to know what's been going on back at the hotel room with you personally. But go ahead, let's give some opening thoughts on maybe the practice round yesterday and we'll go to Q&A.
CHRIS RILEY: It's been a great week so far. It's only been, what are we, Wednesday. I got in on Monday. It's been great, the team room and playing with Tiger and Chad Campbell and Jim Furyk yesterday. Hanging out with the PGA guys, it's been everything it's been cracked up to be and more. I'm just really happy to be here.
JULIUS MASON: All right. You've asked for it now, Chris. Questions, folks.
Q. Talk to us about what you were going through in the playoff at the PGA Championship and how this all came about, your getting here and now being here, there had to be great worry about how and if you were getting here.
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I wasn't in the playoff but I had a putt to make the playoff. I still had a solid PGA finish. I mean, there was a couple different scenarios, if Justin Leonard would have won, I would not be here. I like Justin a lot and I was pulling for him.
Just to make the Ryder Cup Team is something, to represent your country and to be with the guys, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and just to watch them go about their business. I'm learning a lot. I'm a rookie but I feel like I can bring some energy to the team, try to loosen everybody up. The bottom line is it's about having fun and playing a game we love and growing the game we love and you know just to be here is something, an accomplishment for me. So, this is awesome.
Q. Were you -- what are you laughing at? Were you in the delivery room and take us through that what that was like.
CHRIS RILEY: It was pretty intense.
Q. Let me finish my question. (Laughter.) Take us through that, the feelings of being a new father and is there any chance that Michelle can travel and be out here by the end of the week?
CHRIS RILEY: Well, first of all, we went in, we were supposed to have -- our baby was breached and we were supposed to have the baby on September 8th. So we went in on September 2 just to get a regular checkup getting ready for the next week and her fluids were low, I don't know what they are called, somebody used the word, but the fluids.
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, they were low so they put her in the hospital and put her on some IVs and they didn't get any better so they told us we were having the baby that night and I went into just hysterics. I had to go back to the house and get all the stuff ready and bring it. Michelle stayed in the hospital the whole night. No, I couldn't even sign my name. Like I asked the doctor if I was able to cut the umbilical cord and she told me, "Chris, you can't even sign your name right now, I'm not going to let you cut the umbilical cord." It was pretty intense.
It was, you know, everything just like this, everything and more. This has been a great two weeks. To be a father, I can't stop kissing my little baby, it's unbelievable. My wife tells me I stick my face in the baby's face too much I'm suffocating her, but it's better than any feeling I've ever had. You know, it's unfortunate my wife can't be here, but she is, she's a trooper, she said she'll be here Sunday for the singles matches. She said she's coming in Sunday, so that will be good.
But I miss her a lot, because all of the functions with your wives, but Captain Hal, he always says, "Chris, I'm your date tonight." (Laughter.) So he's been my date for two nights in a row.
Q. The team room is one of the unique things about the Ryder Cup and you're in there for the first time, can you just tell us the sights, the sounds, all the stuff in the locker room, what you've enjoyed first 48 hours what goes on behind the scenes?
CHRIS RILEY: This is a totally different format what I'm used every day on the PGA TOUR. Seeing Tiger and Phil and Davis and Stewart Cink, everybody is just hanging out, playing ping pong and playing nine ball. Jay Haas is the wizard at nine ball. Everyone is trying to knock him off. There's a lot of things we're signing in there. It's just a place for the guys to hang out and the wives as well. The wives are funny, we did some energy test thing last night and it worked. That's all I have to say about that. It was pretty cool. Sutton did this thing last night.
Q. What's the energy test?
CHRIS RILEY: It's kind of a long deal -- I don't know, some lady at the luncheon came in and talked to the wives and did this, how strong mentally your mind is and if you put your mind to something it works. So I stood up there last night and told them I was a great putter, "I'm a great putter, I'm a great putter" and sure enough, the results were, I'm a great putter. (Laughter.) It was really a lot of fun. It's just a long of hanging out and what else can I say. It's like the boys club, really.
JULIUS MASON: With the girls.
CHRIS RILEY: With the girls, yeah.
Q. Going on that theme, there's this theory out there that the reason why the U.S. has lost three of the last four of these things is that Europe somehow identifies itself more as a team, you guys are more individuals and all of this kind of stuff. Going in as a first-timer, do you feel like you're part of a team right now?
CHRIS RILEY: Absolutely, I really feel like I'm a team. When I'm on the PGA TOUR, I definitely don't feel like a team. This is definitely a different feeling. Numerous guys have given me insight on how to handle and not to -- you can over prepare. No, I walk up to any of them and ask them questions, I feel comfortable doing that. I don't feel comfortable doing that in a PGA TOUR event. So I definitely think we are a team. You know, the guys are great. It's fun to be around everybody.
Q. This is great that you've got everybody laughing and everything, but obviously, I think you probably want to be remembered more for this Ryder Cup for more than that. How much nerves and how much energy are you feeling right now about just getting out there and hitting balls and being in competition?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I was a little nervous getting on the plane to come out here. This is a big event, one of the biggest in golf.
I'm just trying to be as relaxed as I can, but come Friday, I know it's business and I'll be serious out there on Friday. I'm just enjoying it and having fun until the Ryder Cup starts on Friday. I mean, I'm taking everything in, I'm enjoying talking to you guys, I'm enjoying being with the team, I'm enjoying the practice rounds, but at the same time I'm trying to get ready for a big golf tournament. I'd like nothing else than to keep the Ryder Cup here in the States.
Q. Phil did the math for us that 67 percent of the holes you can use one guy in the alternate-shot because of the par 3s being odd numbers and all that, had you done that math?
CHRIS RILEY: No.
Q. And is that a good thing for you that this may be a putter's course because of the par 3s?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I mean, I've got to start hitting it a little bit better. I wasn't too pleased with how I hit it yesterday but I'm feeling good with the putter. So, we'll see what happens.
No, the greens are really hilly and they're a little slow right now, but I think they will pick up speed. Jim Furyk was telling me yesterday that they are not going to make the course like a U.S. Open, say, so they want to see birdies. I think there will be birdies.
I think definitely the putter will decide the Ryder Cup.
Q. You appear to be a little bit of a live wire. Captain Sutton said he wanted to keep you from bouncing off the trees, is that going to be an issue with you controlling your adrenaline or controlling -- is it usually an issue and will it be an issue this week?
CHRIS RILEY: Not really. I'm just having fun right now. I know on Friday it's a totally different story. Actually Tiger told me starting on Thursday at the opening ceremonies, you start feeling the tournament coming on. I don't really feel that way yet, but I'm just enjoying it and I think I'll be able to calm myself down. I've played in major championships, I played with Phil on Sunday at the PGA this year. That's kind of what I'm expecting. I was nervous, obviously, but at the same time, I always look at what an opportunity it is for me to do something well. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. You've been described as the nephew, bubbly, bouncing off walls. We all know you and that you like to have fun. But every time I've asked somebody for a good anecdote about you this week, they said I've got to ask you.
CHRIS RILEY: Can you tell me what that means? (Laughter.)
Q. So, I'm not sure what that means, but, you know is there a good anecdote about you this week, something that happened in the team room or out on the golf course or anything like that?
CHRIS RILEY: What's an anecdote? (Laughter.)
Q. A fun story.
CHRIS RILEY: Oh, a fun story. I just like it simple. Fun story about this week? I don't really have any fun stories about this week. I'm just having fun out here. I'm just going about our business and saying "Hi" to the crowd and just having fun. I don't really -- there's no individual story right now that I have to share with you that has been really funny.
No, I'm just preparing and I'm doing the best I can.
Q. You said you feel comfortable asking questions. In fact, that had, we talked to him yesterday, he said you ask a ton of questions. So how many questions have you asked your teammates in a given day and give us some of the oddest or strangest questions you've probably asked?
CHRIS RILEY: That's a problem, I ask a question and then when someone is giving me the answer I'm already thinking of the next question and sometimes I miss the answer. I don't know what that is, but that's how I've been my whole life.
No, usually all of the questions I'm asking are about the golf tournament and what's it like out there. Everybody is just telling me like it is. I've played on one Walker Cup team and I know that was nine or ten years ago, but I love this event, and to this day, the Walker Cup was one of the great golfing experiences I've had, a team atmosphere, being with the guys, eating dinner with them every night.
I know a little bit what to expect but we are just having fun. I haven't asked a whole lot of questions.
Q. Are you at all relieved that you get to play on Friday, A, and B, would you like to know who you're playing with? Hal has made it clear that you guys are left in the dark.
CHRIS RILEY: I'm just happy I'm playing Friday and not just playing Sunday.
No, I'll play with any of the guys. I can't wait to see who I'm playing with. I'm just going out there and try to make as many birdies as I can. And no, I have no idea who I'm playing with yet.
Q. Who do you think? Take a guess.
CHRIS RILEY: Who do I think?
Q. If you had to guess?
CHRIS RILEY: If I had to guess, I would guess either Chad Campbell or Tiger Woods. That's my guess. And I love both pairings. Either way, I'm a happy man.
JULIUS MASON: New father, Chris Riley, ladies and gentlemen.
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