Davis Riley rolls by Scottie Scheffler to win at Colonial

Davis Riley reads a putt at the Charles Schwab Championship.

Davis Riley got his first individual PGA Tour title Sunday.

Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Davis Riley had his work cut out for him Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Never mind who he played his final round with on Sunday, but a newly revamped Colonial Country Club was biting back hard. After playing under par Saturday, The fabled Fort Worth, Texas track was rock hard and fast Sunday, complicated by gusty winds that wreaked havoc on the field. Sunday’s scoring average was more than two-and-a-quarter strokes over par.

Add the obvious fact that Riley was playing with Scottie Scheffler, a player in the midst of one the most dominant runs in men’s professional golf since Tiger Woods. The Scheffler of the past few months could have easily closed the four-shot lead Riley had to begin the day.

But he didn’t and Riley rose to the occasion.

After briefly allowing Scheffler within three after a bogey on the 2nd hole, Riley rebounded with a birdie on No. 4 to extend his lead to five. No one got within four shots of him again all day. In the end, Riley’s even-par 70 to win the Charles Schwab Challenge by five over Scheffler and Keegan Bradley.

“Obviously you see the name winners here are incredible guys, people that I’ve looked up to my whole life and watched them winning this tournament when I was growing up,” Riley said. “Yeah, you see that plaque out there right beside 1 tee, seeing all the unreal golfers, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Spieth, unreal golfers and just to etch my name along with those people is pretty special and it will be pretty cool to see my name there.”

It’s Riley’s second PGA Tour title, but first individually after he won the Zurich Classic team event last year with partner Nick Hardy. But individually, the past two seasons have been more of a struggle for the 27-year-old.

After an impressive rookie season in 2022 when he had six top-10s and was one of eight first-year Tour members to advance to the BMW Championship, Riley would not have kept his card in 2023 had it not been for the win at the team event. He had just one other top-10 and missed 14 cuts in 35 events.

This season, he was playing even worse, missing half his cuts so far and entering this week at Colonial in 150th in the FedEx Cup standings with just one top-25 finish.

But all you need is one good week.

Riley recently reunited with longtime friend and former swing coach Jeff Smith and the two have been working on getting more “simplicity” in his golf swing.

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It clicked this week as he raced out to a four-shot lead after 54 holes Sunday and despite a shaky par-bogey start on Colonial’s getable 1st and 2nd holes, Riley had control of the tournament all day. Even as he starred down the same player who beat him in the finals of the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur.

He said Saturday night he wanted to flip the script against Scheffler.

“You got the No. 1 player in the world breathing down your neck, not really any shot lead is too comfortable,” Riley said Sunday. “I knew at some point today he was going to make a push and I expected that and, honestly, I tried to treat today as if we both started tied and I just tried to win the day.”

The World No. 1 too parred the par-5 opener, the easiest hole all week and started fading away quickly. He drove into a penalty area at the 5th, leading to a bogey and struggled with his driver for much of the afternoon. He didn’t find the fairway until the 6th hole and hit only two in the first 11 holes on a day when firm conditions demanded approaches from the short grass.

Meanwhile, Riley continued plodding along as none of his challengers could mount a serious challenge, at one point, opening a seven-shot lead. He gave a few back with bogeys on 12 and 15, but he got one back with a tight approach on 17 out of a divot to walk up 18 with a five-stroke lead.

Scheffler came back with back nine birdies on 13 and 17 to salvage a T2 finish with Keegan Bradley, who posted a 67 for the second-lowest round of the day.

Riley’s win caps a tumultuous weekend on the PGA Tour. Saturday afternoon, Commissioner Jay Monahan announced PGA Tour winner Grayson Murray had passed away that morning at the age of 30. Players wore black and red pins on Sunday in his honor.

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