In addition to his putting, Riley counts among his strengths the fact that he is a fast, decisive player. "He's way faster than John Daly, John Huston or Lanny Wadkins," says Tour veteran Chris Perry, who was paired with Riley two weeks ago in Greensboro. "If he misses a green and has a 30-or 40-yard shot, he'll walk up and back and make up his mind in no time. I'd advise him to evaluate it a little longer, but obviously that's not his style. He has a lot of game and a lot of shots around the green."
Riley's chief weakness is his iron play. He is only 168th in greens hit in regulation. With his pure putting stroke, all he needs to do to become a force is give himself more birdie opportunities. He could also stand to be a little less aggressive. "Sometimes you have to hit it pin-high left or hole-high right—that's maturity^' Brown says. "He doesn't have that yet. He gets mad when I talk him out of going for a par-5 in two. He just bombs away at the pin. No fear."
Riley showed exactly how bulletproof he thinks he is earlier this year during the third round of the Phoenix Open. At the 16th hole, the par-3 that's notorious for being the loudest and rowdiest hole on Tour, he backed off his tee shot and cupped his hand to his ear, egging on the fans, then went ahead and swung while they were screaming. Riley missed the green but was rewarded with cheers instead of the usual boos. "You've got to have some fun out here," he says.
The PGA Tour is a far cry from Tecolote Canyon, the executive course in San Diego on which Chris and Kevin learned to play. They would ride their bikes to the course and pick up range balls in exchange for free rounds. By the time Chris was 14, he was playing money games against men two and three times his age. He finds the sums he plays for now almost comical. "You finish seventh here, you make 80 grand," says Riley. "On the Nike tour, you made $4,500 and thought it was good. I can't imagine winning $450,000.1 don't even believe this is real money out here."
Oh, it's real, all right. So is he.