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Davis Riley clinches first PGA Tour win at Colonial

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Davis Riley was practicing a week before Colonial when he got an unsettling call that his older sister had a seizure at work, which led to the discovery of a tumor on her brain and surgery the next day.

Riley wasn’t even sure then that he would be able to, or even want to, play in the Charles Schwab Challenge.

“When you have somebody that close to you, all the worst-case scenarios are going through your head,” Riley said. “It was certainly a scary feeling thinking about how you could lose your sister.”

The family got a huge sigh of relief when the surgery was successful and the tumor was non-cancerous. His parents told him that his sister wanted him to go play.

So Riley did, and got his first individual victory on the PGA Tour after playing in the final group Sunday with Scott Scheffler. Riley shot even-par 70 to finish at 14-under 266, five strokes ahead of the world’s No 1 player and Keegan Bradley.

Davis Riley poses with the winner’s trophy at the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday. PHOTO: AP

After beginning the final round with a four-stroke lead, Riley gave up a stroke with a bogey on the second hole when he drove into the right rough and then hit into the bunker. But that was the closest Scheffler — or anybody else — would get with wind gusts of 20 mph and more blowing throughout the day, and with firm greens.

Bradley had a 67, and Scheffler shot 71 on a day when he didn’t have a birdie until the 13th hole. Collin Morikawa, the only player in the field to finish all four rounds under par, was fourth at 8 under after his closing 68.

The 27-year-old Riley’s only other PGA Tour win came when he and Nick Hardy won the Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans last year. The Mississippi native’s win at historic Colonial, which had been completely restored since last year’s tournament, earned him USD1,638,000, the traditional winner’s plaid jacket and a fully restored and modernised 1975 Stingray car.

Riley’s parents were still with his sister and not there for his victory. But Hardy, who teed off five hours before the final group, was there to greet him after his final 6-foot par putt.

“We’ve got a special friendship and obviously having our maiden PGA Tour in together was certainly special,” Riley said. “We actually played the first two days together this week. So there’s definitely a level of comfort there. Probably a big reason why I got off to a good start.”

The final round was played on the day that Grayson Murray’s parents said their 30-year-old son took his own life Saturday, a day after the two-time tour winner had cited illness when withdrawing from the event with two holes left in his second round. The family had insisted to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan for play to continue.

Bradley was at 10 under after a 4-foot birdie at the 17th hole, but missed a similar-length chance to save par at No 18 after his tee shot and approach both ended up in the right rough.

“My best round of the year probably. Hung in there,” Bradley said. “I really felt comfortable out there in contention, which is not always the case.”

Colonial was his first top 10 since being in a three-way playoff at the Sony Open in January won by Murray.

Riley curled in a 27-foot birdie at the 229-yard par-3 No 4 that is the middle of the famed “Horrible Horseshoe” that is still the toughest three-hole stretch on the course. Scheffler bogeyed there and again at No 5 after his into the right rough running parallel to the Trinity River.

“It was certainly nice to start out with a cushion,” Riley said. “You got the No 1 player in the world breathing down your neck, not really any shot lead is too comfortable….I tried to treat today as if we both started tied and I just tried to win the day.”

By time Riley closed out the front nine with a 9-foot birdie putt, he was six strokes ahead of Scheffler.

“I just wasn’t able to put as much pressure as I would have hoped to put on Davis early in the round,” Scheffler said. “He made that bogey on 2 and answered it really quick with a birdie on 4 and didn’t really give us much of an opening today….It was a well-earned win for him.”

Scheffler was playing close to his Dallas home a week after his arrest in the morning darkness before his second round of the PGA Championship, when police were investigating a pedestrian fatality and arrested — and briefly jailed — Scheffler for not following traffic directions.

After tying for eighth at Valhalla, Colonial was the 11th top-10 finish in Scheffler’s 12 tournaments this year. Before the PGA Championship, he had taken three weeks off for the birth of his first child after back-to-back wins at the Masters and the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.

It was Scheffler’s third consecutive top-three finish at Colonial, even after an opening 72 that was the first time this season he failed to break par in a first round. That also included his first triple-bogey of the season, when his tee shot at the par-3 13th hole went into the pond fronting that raised green.

No 13 was Scheffler’s first birdie Sunday, but he was still seven strokes back at that point. After the triple on Thursday, he had played 44 consecutive bogey-free holes — including rounds of 65 and 63, until Nos 4 and 5 on Sunday.

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