January 8, 2003
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Chris, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center. This is an interesting week for you. Not only is it special because you're one of the 18 first-time winners on the PGA TOUR from last year, but you're also celebrating your honeymoon here in Kapalua.
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah. So far it's been a great week. I mean, we got married about three weeks ago on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, now here we are in Maui.
Q. How did you pick Bourbon Street?
CHRIS RILEY: She was from Louisiana. We had the jazz band leading all the way down to Pat O'Brien's.
Q. Do you remember the ceremony?
CHRIS RILEY: I remember it a little bit. It was fun. That's a crazy place.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions.
Q. How does it feel being here?
CHRIS RILEY: It feels great. Just the views, all that, to be amongst the winners on the TOUR, it's a good feeling, just to know you've accomplished a win last year. I'm just happy to be here.
Q. Where would you have gone for your honeymoon had it not been for this tournament?
CHRIS RILEY: Probably Hawaii somewhere. I don't know. Everybody goes to Hawaii. I also heard the Bahamas are real nice. Probably over here in Hawaii. I don't know where.
Q. Do you find yourself looking back at your win or looking forward to what's next?
CHRIS RILEY: I'm looking forward to what's next. I won an event, which kind of has an asterisk by it. But a win is a win. Hopefully we can get another one this year.
Q. When you mentioned the asterisk, do you think the way you played at Reno, you could have won at Sahalee if you had been there?
CHRIS RILEY: No.
Q. Just trying to help.
CHRIS RILEY: Well, that's hard to say. I was playing good. I finished third the week before they PGA. I did one of these press conferences. They asked, "Are you the favorite coming in?" I've never really been the favorite.
I don't think I could have. I mean, who knows? But those were the top, I don't know, 64 players in the world, however they do the field. Obviously, the field wasn't as strong as it could have been. Tiger teases me. He says it's not a win until I'm in the field. It's kind of funny.
He's not here this week.
Q. He's not here to defend himself?
CHRIS RILEY: Yes.
Q. What is the best Tiger story you have?
CHRIS RILEY: Gee, I have a lot. We teed up a lot in junior golf in the Cannon Cup on the AJGA. He always tells a story about how he was trying to read a putt from me, the next thing he turns around, I'm already done. He thinks I'm a fast player.
I go way back with Tiger. We recruited him at UNLV. That didn't work. But we have fun.
Q. Are you the chaperon?
CHRIS RILEY: I was. But he took off (laughter). I think he had a girlfriend there at the time or something.
Q. Do you feel less pressure this year having already won or do you feel more pressure to kind of follow up?
CHRIS RILEY: That's kind of interesting. I'm kind of feeling more and more pressure because I'm not used to doing these interviews or anything. I mean, every year I've been getting better and better. I don't know if you can keep getting better, but I'm trying.
I mean, I'm just going out there, having fun, playing. Obviously it's more fun when you play well. You know, if you don't play well, it's not very much fun.
Q. Could you talk about the turnaround in your putting? Tiger said you were terrible when you were a kid.
CHRIS RILEY: Outside of five feet, I was a great putter. When I got inside five feet, I had a short, quick back stroke. Sometimes I'd even like double hit it. Coach at UNLV, he helped me out a lot with that.
Q. What did he do?
CHRIS RILEY: He told me to keep my head still, not worry about the results. When I was a kid, I'd try to make the putts, I'd take it back like that far. Coach told me to work on a nice stroke. That's what I do now.
Q. How would you measure the turnaround in your putting?
CHRIS RILEY: I feel like I'm one of the greatest putters out here (laughter). I do. I feel like I can putt with anybody. My ball striking is okay. I hit it strong. I'm not long, but I make a lot of putts. We'll see what happens.
Q. What is your schedule like at the beginning of the year?
CHRIS RILEY: I'm going to play the first four, take AT&T off, hopefully play the last. I want to get into that Matchplay, so the last three. So seven out of the eight on the West Coast.
Q. Numbers are where?
CHRIS RILEY: I'm like 42 in the world. Hopefully I can get Tiger (laughter).
Q. Who wins?
CHRIS RILEY: I'll take him.
Q. Have you ever beaten him?
CHRIS RILEY: I did beat him one time. I beat him at Pebble Beach I think in '99 when it blew like 80 and he was caught on Pebble Beach, I was on the Poppy Hills course. That's the only time I beat him.
Q. Not head-to-head, though?
CHRIS RILEY: No, not head-to-head. He's tough.
Q. We've heard that.
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah.
Q. Your name has been thrown out when people talk about the 20 something group, Charles Howell, Sergio, they mention you. Does that surprise you at all?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah. I mean, I've always been -- the Justin Leonards, Stewart Cinks, I've always been able to compete with them, hang around them, but I never got to that upper breakthrough and win. Last year I did win one. I've always been the guy who finished second or third. I'm hopefully going to turn that around with experience out here.
They have that extra notch I don't have that I'm searching for. Maybe I can find it here.
Q. Who was your peer group? Those guys?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, Justin, Tiger. I graduated in '96 from UNLV.
Q. You graduated?
CHRIS RILEY: Yes. Coach made me get my degree.
Q. Do you remember what it was in?
CHRIS RILEY: Communications (laughter).
Q. Did you get an invitation in the mail over Christmas?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, for the Masters.
Q. What was that like?
CHRIS RILEY: Pretty sweet. I'm pretty excited.
Q. Did it come to the house?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, it came to the house. Says I get eight tickets. I have a lot more friends that want to go.
Q. You knew it was coming, obviously?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah.
Q. What does it mean what is it like when you're going through the mail?
CHRIS RILEY: It's great. I came close to coming to the Masters as an amateur. That kind of hurt. Making it this year, it's going to be pretty cool.
Q. You've never been?
CHRIS RILEY: No.
Q. Not even as a tourist or something?
CHRIS RILEY: Huh-uh.
Q. Are you going to stop and sign autographs for the protesters outside?
CHRIS RILEY: Probably.
Q. What do you think about that whole deal? Have you been asked about it?
CHRIS RILEY: Yeah, I've been asked about it. Nobody really cares what I have to say. It's usually what the guys have to say, what Tiger thinks.
Q. New York Times hasn't called on you to boycott?
CHRIS RILEY: No. I'm just happy to be there, like here.
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