Golf: Another high in the life of Riley

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The Independent Online


reports from Lisbon

Unforgettable, Wayne Riley certainly is. A self-confessed retired wild colonial boy, he might be, but late last Sunday night in Dubai airport he was in an emotional state over Australia's defeat by Sri Lanka in the cricket World Cup.

It is the 33-year-old Australian's wish, however, to be remembered as a prolific winner. Riley has won four times on his home tour, including his national Open, and last year made the big breakthrough in Europe. His victory in the Scottish Open at Carnoustie was a class example of front running, and his two-shot win in the Portuguese Open at Aroeira yesterday was another.

Some years ago a certain hot-headedness would have boiled over. On Saturday, Riley held a seven-shot lead before seeing it cut to two by the end of the day. Yesterday, he was only one in front of Martin Gates after a bogey at the eighth. The response said it all. Fifteen feet away in two at the par-5 ninth, he holed the putt for an eagle, and birdied the next, also a par-5.

Mark Davis also got within one shot after 17 but promptly missed the green at the last and failed to get up and down from a bunker. The Essex man's 67 tied him for second place with Gates, who shot a 70 to record his best finish on tour.

"It is tough leading for so long and I felt I needed to keep attacking," said Riley, who closed with a 70 for 13 under. "This is my sixth win and things are starting to happen for me at a nice time. I really do put those trophies on the mantelpiece."

A morning thunderstorm caused a delay of three hours and 10 minutes, during which further play looked unlikely. "So many guys were shaking me by the hand, but I wanted to play, whether I won or lost," Riley said. "In our profession, we play over 72 holes. I didn't want to win over three rounds because that gets remembered."

The break failed to interrupt Barry Lane's concentration as he equalled Klas Eriksson's course record 63 of three days previously to finish joint fourth. Lane birdied nine out of 11 holes from the sixth and missed eagle putts of 15 feet and four feet at the par-fives 10th and 15th, and for birdie from 15 feet at 12, eight feet at 17 and just two feet at the last.

Final scores, Digest, page 23