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An Interview With: Chris Riley

JULIUS MASON: Chris Riley, ladies and gentlemen, in at 5-under at the 86th PGA Championship.

Chris, if you would not mind giving us some opening comments on your round today.

CHRIS RILEY: I played pretty good overall today. I think I made -- I don't know how many birdies I made, but the course is definitely playing a little bit tougher today. They put some tees back, but overall, I still think it's a fair golf course and there's going to be some birdie chances out there. But then there's a couple of holes where you'll take par and walk to the next hole.

But overall, feeling pretty good about my game and 5-under, I shot 2-under today, and just feel real comfortable and I can't wait for the weekend to start.

JULIUS MASON: Let's just talk about your birdies and bogeys.

CHRIS RILEY: I birdied No. 2. I made about a 10-footer for birdie on the par 5.

I birdied No. 6. I made about a 12-footer for birdie.

7 is playing really tough. I think it's playing 220 yards with a crosswind, and I made bogey there. I missed about an 8-footer for par.

10, I made about a 10-footer for birdie.

15, I missed about an 8-footer for par.

Then on 16, I made about an 8-footer for birdie.

Q. Other guys have suggested that the scores may be one or two shots tougher. Do you find that to be the case?

CHRIS RILEY: I'd say one and a half shots. I mean, it is most definitely playing a little bit tougher. The conditions were the same, but like I said, they moved the tees back on a couple of holes.

18 is really not playing that hard because it's downwind and right-to-left. But like for sure, No. 7 and No. 8 are playing a lot more difficult. They have moved the pin all the way back on 7, and No. 8 is a good -- long hitters out here will hit a driver and long iron in.

Yeah, I'd say probably a shot, shot and a half harder, for sure.

Q. You were -- it's funny already, right? You were kind of right there bubbleish for Ryder Cup middle of the year, and you've still got a chance, obviously. How much did that weigh on your mind through the summer when you were not playing so good?

CHRIS RILEY: I really didn't think about it a whole lot. Now I know what I have to do this week, and my wife's going to have a baby the opening day of the Ryder Cup, so, I mean, it was kind of a hard -- it's a hard deal.

I know what I've got to do this week. If I play well, I could still make the team, and that's all I'm going to try for. I didn't play that much this summer. There was a couple of times when I probably should have played and I didn't. But, that's part of life, and I really don't want to miss the birth of my first child. It's a tough situation.

Q. Bring her to Michigan.

CHRIS RILEY: I don't know, it would be a good problem to have if I do pull it out this weekend. I just want to have a chance on Sunday to make it. So that's pretty much my goals right now.

Q. Why didn't you play a couple of tournaments, whatever they were, in the summer? What kept you from doing that?

CHRIS RILEY: I was kind of struggling a little bit, and also, you know, the week after the British Open, my wife came down with some things about the pregnancy, but everything is fine now.

There's probably only one or two tournaments I could have played that I didn't. I mean, that British Open takes a lot out of you. I tried to prepare the right way. That didn't work; I missed the cut (laughing).

I don't know, I feel like if -- I try not to think about what went on behind me, and I'm trying to play tomorrow and the next day. I know if I play well, and it's meant to be, it's meant to be.

Q. I guess it's safe to say this was very overblown from some of us, that this golf course was going to be impossible, and were you surprised when you saw the scores, or did you expect it to pretty much play that way?

CHRIS RILEY: You know what, I really didn't have any expectations out there. Like I said, I think the PGA sets up their golf courses fair, and that's why we have a lot of first-time major champions.

The last day at Shinnecock this year on Sunday was pretty -- I mean, it was kind of ridiculous. Really, this is my fourth PGA, and I've never really came away going, "that wasn't really a fair golf course." So I feel real comfortable with how they set up their golf courses. They are not trying to, I don't know what the USGA tries to do, but they are not trying to -- they just want to have a golf tournament and have the best player win. In a couple of the U.S. Opens I've played in, I really felt like it was kind of an unfair test of golf. Sunday at Shinnecock was what it was.

So I really didn't -- I mean, if they put the tee back on every hole and they put the pin back on every hole, yeah, it's a brutal golf course. But the way they set it up, it's pretty fair.

Q. All of the conversation about how hard the golf course was, based on the way it was playing in the practice rounds, you said it's playing a stroke to a stroke and a half easier today in comparison to yesterday. How is it playing in comparison to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and are the differences in the weather rather than length?

CHRIS RILEY: Well, the practice rounds, you try to play it as hard as you can, so that when they do set it up in the tournament, it's not as hard. I think it's playing harder today, for sure, by a stroke and a half. But I just think that the PGA is not going to set it up that hard. If the USGA was setting up this golf course, I think it would be playing extremely more difficult. That's pretty much it.

Q. Is the same thing going to happen, are the results going to be the PGA of America is going to identify the best player here; is that going to happen?

CHRIS RILEY: It's a fair test, and I think everybody has a great shot, and, yeah, I think the guy who is playing the best is going to win this week.

Q. Well, the Post was quoted, he's pretty upset that there were that many sub-par rounds; that he wanted this to be a tiger of a course. There were complaints about it, and thinking that there's 156 players running through here so they want to get them through and not make it so difficult, and on and on and on about the complaints, just wondering if the bottom line is, are we going to get the best player?

CHRIS RILEY: I think the bottom line is, yeah, we are going to get the best player out of this. When the PGA sets up their golf courses -- I've only played four of them, but I think they are all a fair test of golf. Out of all the majors, I think the PGA, I've played in all of them, and I think they set it up the best of all the major championships. That's pretty much how I feel. If the guy who owns the course goes and sets it up, I think we'd be in a little bit of trouble (laughter).

No, at the end of the week, I think you're going to have the guy who plays the best, and you will have the best golfer this week.

JULIUS MASON: How much would it cost to have you wear a PGA of America logo on that cap? Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

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