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March 15, 2003

Chris Riley


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Great job today. Third round 65 puts you at 18-under and puts you in the hunt. If you could talk about your day, you finished the round with four straight birdies. One of your fellow competitors Justin Leonard finished with six straight birdies. Seems that you both enjoyed the delay after the rain.

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, were feeding off each other pretty good. That rain delay was something, you get back out there, you go in there and you eat turkey and you're stuffed and then you have to go back out there and play.

I was just trying to hang it there with Justin. He played great and birdies the last six holes. I wasn't expecting a birdie chip-in on last hole but it went in.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You are regarded as one of the top putters on TOUR, and Justin when he's playing well is probably equally as good with the putter. If you could just talk about playing with him and how that was, especially on the greens.

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, we had a lot of fun today. Our whole group made a lot of putts. My putter is the best club in my bag. That's the reason why I'm out here and on a course like this; you really don't have to ball-strike it that great.

I consider myself a mediocre ball-striker in the standards of out here, but my putter is pretty good. That's what keeps me out here year after year.

It's fun just having a shot at winning this tournament tomorrow. That's what we play for and that's what I'll be trying to do tomorrow is make a lot of putts.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You were married recently in the last several months. If you could maybe talk about how that's been, obviously on the golf course, and it's been positive, but just overall.

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, it's been great. I've been married for three months, got married December 14 to an LPGA player that she used to play on the LPGA, her name is Michelle Levier (ph) Riley. She knows exactly what I'm going through. Sometimes she's a little too hard on me and we get into it a little bit too much. Like in the match-play I was playing David Toms and I hit a shot and she was like: "How could you hit that shot?" It was like we were playing in swampy -- the conditions were very wet.

It's been great. She understands what I do for a living, and unfortunately I don't think she's going to play. She's tired of grinding it out out there. She didn't do very well out there, but she comes from a golfing family and that's what we do. It's been great so far.

Q. Was in some way the weather delay, were you able to re-gather yourself? I know for a lot of players, the whole day, people were out of their rhythm because of the weird tee times and whatnot.

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, the weather delay, I went to the range and I hit it terrible, because I sat there for like an hour and I hit a couple duck-hooks and a couple high right ones. I'm like, gosh, I have to go back out there and play.

But I really hit it good out there. Last four holes -- except for 18, I hit in the left bunker and made a nice chip-in. The other three holes, I hit it really good.

I'm just really out here to compete and just hang in there with these guys, and hopefully tomorrow I'll be there at the end, too, to win the tournament or something that you've always dreamed of doing. I know it's an uphill battle. With Davis Love, Billy Mayfair, Justin Leonard, those are all of the guys at the top and I'll be an underdog, but that's why we play.

Q. Do you care how you hit it on the range? Does that make you more nervous?

CHRIS RILEY: It goes both ways. Sometimes I hit it great on the range and I hit it out on the course and I can hit it bad on the range and hit it great on the course. I just use the range as a tool to warm-up. I don't really pay attention.

I'm just kind of a chipper and putter and hit it down the middle, hit it on the green and make the putt. I don't get lessons a whole lot. I just do the best I can out there.

Q. Were you feeling at all like you were slipping out of contention before that run at the end?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I glanced up at the leaderboard a couple of times and I think I was at 14 when the delay hit and I think 17 was leading. So I knew I had to make a couple birdies. So I figured if I would have gotten to 16, I would be doing okay. I know tomorrow, anyways, I'm going to have to shoot another 5- or 6-under to win.

Yeah, I felt like it was slipping away. If you don't make birdies out there, you're going to be going the other way. Bogeys will just kill you.

Q. In a tournament with so many guys a few strokes within the lead, how often do you look at the leaderboard?

CHRIS RILEY: My case today, I knew I was not leading the golf tournament because I was playing with Justin Leonard who was beating me, so I was just trying to hang in there with him.

I don't really look at a whole lot of leaderboards. Tomorrow I won't look at any leaderboards. Hopefully I'll be in the last group. That's what you play for. So hopefully I'll be playing with the guys leading the tournament.

Q. Drives are sort of the glamour shot of golf, hitting long and so forth, and for you, with chipping and putting would be your forte, you sometimes feel like your skills are underappreciated or that people overlook that?

CHRIS RILEY: If I could hit the ball like 325, I think I would do a lot better out here. But, you know, God only blessed me with a great putter and a great short game. He didn't bless me with drives going 325. So I just play with what I've got.

My dad, all we did was chip-and-putt growing up, that's all we did. I really never had a lesson until I was about 18, 19, 20 years old. And my dad tells me he wishes he would have gotten me some lessons when I was young, but he never did.

This is a course that you don't need to hit it long. I'm happy to putt with anybody out here, anybody who wants to putt, we can putt. I feel like it's anybody's game tomorrow.

Q. Davis and Justin are major championship winners, does that make them the players to beat, or is the nature of this tournament so wide open it doesn't matter who is leading?

CHRIS RILEY: Absolutely, Davis Love and Justin Leonard, they are Hall of Famers in my book. So I think they will be the guys to beat tomorrow.

They have been there a lot. I haven't been there as much as them. You know, that's why people come out to watch, to see if someone like me can beat those guys. It will be fun tomorrow. I know it's going to be a challenge and an uphill battle, but hopefully I can roll in some more of those 25-, 30-footers and you never know what can happen.

Q. Is your wife here?

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah. She travels with me full time and it's great.

Q. Would you want to get in a putting contest with her?

CHRIS RILEY: She's pretty good from five feet and in but I think I could take her. (Laughter.)

Q. Does she regularly critique your rounds?

CHRIS RILEY: When I play good like today, she won't say much. But when I don't play that great she'll critique me. (Laughing) like I said, it's the nature of the beast. I always ask her what she thinks, too. She's really golf knowledgeable so that really helps.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll go your last four holes, birdies coming in, starting with 15, the par 5.

CHRIS RILEY: I drove it right down the middle, laid up with a 6-iron, chipped it in there about 12 feet, made it.

16, I hit a 9-iron in there about 12 feet and made it.

17, I hit a driver 3-iron just right of the green and chipped it up to about a foot.

Then 18, I've been having a hard time on 18 with the tee shot, but I hit it in the left bunker hit a cut 5-wood out there to the and chipped it in.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Your bogey of the day on 7.

CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I hit the wrong club off the tee. I hit in the fairway bunker which is right in the middle of the fairway. I should have hit driver but I didn't. I hit it in the fairway bunker and hit it 20 yards short of the green and didn't get it up there.

End of FastScripts....

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