Despite driver issues, Davis Riley is still set for his first PGA Tour win at his home event.
The 25-year-old Mississippi native tied for the lead in the Sanderson Farms 18-hole championship after opening 66 without a ghost. He then went 1-71 in the second round; he’s just three shots behind the lead at 7 under and T-3 after 36 holes.
And Riley knows why he dropped a few places on the leaderboard.
“I drove him terribly today,” Riley said after the second day. Like yesterday, I didn’t lead him superbly. One of the worst weeks of driving in a long time. When I had the opportunity, I just took advantage of it.
“So yeah, I hit a couple of good shots and I think I had three scarecrows today and they were all three hits. I don’t know, I just got lucky a few times with bad discs, in decent places, and hitting the green. If I could just walk out onto the fairway, I’d be fine.”
Full Sanderson Farms Championship Results
The Alabama alum hit five of 14 fairways in each of the first two rounds. In the middle of the tournament, he is T-126 in driving accuracy in the middle of the field and 86th in the number of shots scored: from the tee (-0.308). On Friday, he pared four of the five holes he hit on the fairway, and the eighth par-4 (his 17th hole of the round) was the only exception when he bogeyed after hitting the green at two.
Even after his troubles, Riley is upbeat about his weekend game.
“(I’m) optimistic because I’m good at a lot of things,” he said. “When I hit the fairway or got in a good position, I took advantage of that… It’s a pretty simple decision, just get a few good starting lines and move on.”
If he can fix his big stick problems, Riley, who last season as a rookie finished in the top 5 four times and lost in the playoffs to Sam Burns at the Valspar Championship, could take his first Tour victory in front of family and friends. at an event he called his “fifth major”.
“It will mean that the whole world will have a chance to win this golf tournament,” he said. “But, as I said (after the 1st round), there is a lot of work to be done. The game is in good condition. I do a lot of good things. I just need to get a little better here or there and I’ll be ready for tomorrow.”