Riley takes one-shot lead in Chitimacha Louisiana Open

March 27, 2008
John Bush, PGA TOUR Staff

BROUSSARD, La. -- Chris Riley recorded a 6-under 65 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over Jeff Klauk after the first round of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries -- the first domestic tournament of the season on the Nationwide Tour. Monday Qualifier Andrew Dresser and PGA TOUR rookie Travis Perkins sit just two shots behind.

Inside the Numbers
Riley thru 18 Holes
Category Total Rank
Eagles 0 N/A
Birdies 7 T1
Pars 10 T85
Bogeys 1 T132
Double Bogeys 0 N/A
Other 0 N/A
Driving Accuracy 61.5% T44
Driving Distance 275.0 yds. T112
Greens in Regulation 77.8% T6
Putts per Round 27.0 T11
Putts per GIR 1.571 T6
Sand Saves 0 N/A

Riley, who is fresh off of a 21st-place finish at last week's PGA TOUR stop in Puerto Rico, is a local favorite at the par-71 Le Triomphe Country Club.

His wife, Michelle Louviere, went to nearby Acadiana High School and then starred on the golf team at Louisiana State University from 1995-1998. As a result, he has plenty of family and friends in his gallery as he attempts to regain full membership on the PGA TOUR -- a spot he has held since 1999.

"Club pro David Church has always been nice and allowed me to come out here and practice," said Riley. "I play out here all the time when I'm visiting the in-laws."

His familiarity with the course showed on Thursday, as he posted seven birdies -- including a stellar 4-under 32 on the opening nine holes -- and just one bogey (No. 14). A 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fourth hole and 15-foot birdie putts on Nos. 8 & 11 highlighted the former Ryder Cup player's day.

"I played really good today," said Riley, who won his first Nationwide Tour event last year at the Rochester Area Charities Showdown at Somerby.

After a fairly calm start to the round, sustained winds picked up and ranged from 15-20 mph throughout the remainder of the day, with gusts reaching 32 mph.

"It was definitely an advantage teeing off early today," said Riley, winner of the 2002 Reno-Tahoe Open. "We were able to play about four or five holes before the winds picked up. I've always seemed to play pretty good in the wind. I'm a low-ball hitter ... so the wind doesn't touch my ball all that much."

While Riley would have preferred to be teeing it up at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week, he was more than happy to have a close alternative (Lafayette sits just 130 miles away from the Crescent City) on the Tour he first played in 1998.

"This is like a home tournament for me," said Riley, a 34-year-old native of San Diego, Calif.

First-Round News & Notes: Jose de Jesus Rodriguez failed to show for his tee time and was replaced by veteran Ben Bates. Bates, who is just 13 tournaments away from having the most starts in Tour history, was out on the course serving as a caddie for Tour pro John Morse when he got the call that the spot was open. A hasty trip to the car to retrieve his golf clubs and shoes ensued, and 10 minutes later he was teeing it up in his 358th career Nationwide Tour event. He ended the day with a 2-over 73. ... Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey recorded an even-par 71 on Thursday, but signed for a 2-over 73 and thus had to settle for the higher score. Gainey posted birdie-3s on Nos. 4 & 9, but signed for pars. ... Paul Claxton (72) had a hole-in-one on the 206-yard third hole with a 4-iron. It was the first ace at the tournament since Sean O'Hair performed the feat on the sixth hole in 2005. Claxton has had 21 aces during his golfing career, including recreational, amateur and professional play. ... Dave Rummells withdrew following a first round 78 with dizziness (inner ear). ... It wasn't a good opening day for the six past champions participating in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. 2001 winner Paul Claxton had the best showing with a 1-over 72, while the others included 1996 winner Paul Stankowski (83), 1997 champion Joe Daley (76), 2004 winner Jimmy Walker (75), 2005 victor Ryan Hietala (80) and 2007 champion Skip Kendall (77). ... The first-round leader at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open has gone on to win just three times in the previous 16 years of the tournament, including Sean Murphy in 1992, Joe Daley in 1997 and Brett Wetterich in 2003.