February 5, 2009–So you're at home dealing with a fracture in your foot, and then all of a sudden someone tells you that Tiger Woods has just devoted a few sentences to you in a blog post that basically the entire golf world reads. That was the case for part-time Las Vegas resident and PGA Tour golfer Chris Riley recently, when Woods, a very good friend of Riley's dating back to junior golf, wrote about how good it was to see his partner back on the PGA Tour. Riley is one of nine Las Vegas golfers playing in the Buick Invitational Feb 5-8. LIVE SCORING/RESULTS.
"When I do return to the PGA Tour, I'm looking forward to teeing it up with my old friends Notah Begay III and Chris Riley who earned their cards at the Qualifying Tournament," Wrote Tiger, while also writing that he is back to practicing on eyeing a return to the PGA Tour following his surgery. "I think it's great, Notah in particular with all the back struggles he's had. It's pretty remarkable. I expect to play a lot of practice rounds with him. I'm also excited for Riles, a former Ryder Cup teammate. Both guys did it the right way – they earned their way back."
Riley has also been sidelined as he has been dealing with a stress fracture in his foot, but was looking forward to getting back to action at the Buick Invitational played at Torrey Pines, the course that is located just minutes from where he grew up. “I'm ready to go; it'll be good,” Riley told the San Diego Tribune before teeing off. “I was chipping and putting on it last week, and it's fine. It's been kind of weird doing nothing, so I'm glad to be playing. I'll get the cobwebs out and do the best I can.” Riley had lost official status on the PGA Tour, but earned it back by finishing in a tie for 18th at PGA Tour Qualifying School.
Riley has lived in Las Vegas since his days as a four-time All-American at UNLV in the mid-nineties. Riley and family now live and spends a lot of time in San Diego, but Riley says he still likes spending time in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas area is home to more than 70 Las Vegas golf courses, and about 30 pro golfers who compete on the biggest golf tours in the world have deep ties to Las Vegas. The other Las Vegas golfers playing in the Buick Invitational include residents Alex Cejka, Dean Wilson, Charley Hoffman, Scott Piercy, Nick Watney, and Bill Lunde, and former UNLV golfers Ryan Moore and James Oh. Golfers can reserve Las Vegas golf tee times or Las Vegas golf packages at many of the resort Las Vegas golf courses hrough the official websites of the Las Vegas golfers via links from GolfLasVegasNow.com.
The Las Vegas area is home to more than 20 golfers who play the major golf tours, inlcuding the LPGA Tour, PGA Tour, and Nationwide Tour. The reigning U.S. Women's Open champion, In Bee Park, played high school golf in Las Vegas, while many of the world's best train at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, located at Rio Secco Golf Club. Las Vegas is also a wonderful golf destiation, and the featured Las Vegas golf course pick today is Bali Hai Golf Club, a tropical golf retreat located right on the Las Vegas Strip that features holes and a theme straight from the South Pacific. Click now to view the official holes and information from Bali Hai Golf Club.
Riley and Woods first got to know each other when both played in junior golf events in and around the San Diego area, and then continued the relationship when Riley attended UNLV while Tiger went to Stanford, but only after very nearly attending UNLV, in part because of Riley's praise for the school. Riley has been quoted in the past as saying that he thought Tiger was coming to UNLV, and was a bit surprised when Tiger chose Stanford at the last minute. They also competed on the United States Walker Cup team together. Their friendship continued as both played on the PGA Tour, and then were teammates on the 2004 United States Ryder Cup team. While at the Ryder Cup, he and Woods played together and Riley commented about their junior golf days and what it's like to play with Tiger.
"We played a team match when we were 15 years old together," said Riley, who also attends Tiger Jam, Woods' annual charity event in Las Vegas. "I was 16 and he was 14 or 15 and we paired up and we beat somebody like 5 & 4 … we enjoy playing with each other, and you know, what can I say, the crowds are bigger following him — it's just a lot of fun, that's all I can really say. It's nerve-wracking, but it's still fun."
A few weeks ago, Riley told us here at GolfLasVegasNow.com about how much he was looking forward to getting back to the top level of play that earned him a PGA Tour win and millions of dollars in earnings. "I am hungry to get back to playing very good golf," says Riley, who is working with former UNLV Golf sports therapist Jay Brunza for the first time. "I've played decent golf the past few years, but I know I can play better. It's such a fine line … it's one or two shots a tournament that makes the difference. I look forward to proving myself, but not just to other people, but proving to myself that I can get back to the level I was. I still have it in me; I have the desire. My kids are on the way and everything is set up for me to have a good year."