After exiting full-time play on the PGA Tour back in 2013, Chris Riley literally lived the life of Riley for a spell. His main task the next couple years: coaching daughters Taylor and Rose in softball, plus schlepping them about to soccer.
“I was the soccer dad,” joked Riley.
Eventually, the golf itch needed to be scratched. He was a volunteer assistant coach at his UNLV alma mater.
“I fell in love helping mentor young men,” said Riley.
Last June, Riley was named USD’s men’s golf coach and now he’s about to begin his first spring season as the Toreros’ head coach. The season commences Feb. 12-13 with the Toreros hosting the USD Intercollegiate tournament at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe.
The 11-team tournament includes USD, UCLA, Santa Clara, UC Riverside, New Mexico State, Wichita State, Idaho, USF, Cal Poly, Seattle and Sacramento State.
Few golf coaches carry Riley’s credentials. He played in more than 300 PGA Tour events, plus the 2004 Ryder Cup. He won once on the PGA Tour and once on the Web.com Tour, plus finished second four times. Top 10 finishes: 33.
He was ranked as high as 21st in the world. Career earnings: $11,525,199.
Riley grew up in San Diego, attending Madison and Patrick Henry. You do not rise to being one of the best in the world at an endeavor as difficult and humbling as golf without a drive, and his USD goals are lofty.
“I want to be a top program in the country,” Riley said. “It’s going to take a little bit of time, but I don’t think it’ll take a lot of time.”
His 2018 team is a veteran squad, the 12-man roster counting one graduate student, three seniors and three juniors. His No. 1 player is senior Daniel Lopez from Los Angeles.
“He has all the talent in the world,” Riley said of Lopez.
At tournaments, teams field five-man rosters with the highest score tossed out. After Lopez, Riley said the competition is tight for the next four playing spots.
“They’re all so close, I can’t even make a call yet,” he said.
The team features a distinct foreign flavor. There’s a player from Spain, England, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico and Guam.
“They all love soccer more than anything,” Riley quipped. “It’s great to have all that variety. They’re good guys.”
Riley said he helps his players more on the mental side of the sport than the physical aspect. As an example, he cited when a player hits a solid shot but maybe he’s dealt with a bad break, perhaps a bad bounce. How does he respond?
“You have to accept the shot and move on,” he said. “I have one player who reacts to every shot. I told him, ‘It’s got to be exhausting being you.’ He knows. That’s just his personality. We’re working on that.”
Bottom line, Riley is enjoying his new gig.
“I love it,” he said. “The young men, making their way through life, helping them, trying to get the best out of them, helping them reach their potential. I enjoy watching young men improve at what they’re doing.”
At a school with USD’s academic standing, Riley said he does not have to lecture on the importance of studying. He mentioned one player whose focus isn’t on landing a spot on the PGA Tour but earning entrance into Stanford’s business school.
“They know what they need to do academically,” Riley said. “That’s the easy part.”
Men's Basketball: Rock the House
Toreros played No. 6 Gonzaga in a fight to the last minute
Men's Basketball: Day in the Life
Guard Olin Carter III knows the games starts long before tip-off
Rowing, tennis, basketball and baseball, a winning day in the books
Baseball: For the Love of the Game
Baseball celebrates 60 years
Women's Basketball: Women in Sports Day
Julie Foudy spoke to student-athletes and guests for National Women in Sports Day
Men's Basketball: At LMU
Men's basketball on the road
Women's Rowing: Day in the Life
Senior Lizzie Bader shows how three-a-day practices are done
Men's Basketball: Youth Basketball Clinic
Toreros lead clinic in local community
Men's Rowing: Winter Camp 2018
There are plenty perks to being the early bird
60 Years of USD Baseball
Milestones on the road to Omaha
USD Honors Local Military Members
Toreros showed their support and hosted local military members at the men's basketball game
USD Athletes Sing "Santa's Coming to Town"
Toreros show their talent out of uniform
Basketball: City Championship
Toreros play SDSU Thursday night at 8
Football: Week Fourteen
Football preps for second round of playoffs at NDSU
Football: NAU From the Sidelines
Toreros win in first round of playoffs at NAU
Football: Week Thirteen
Football travels to NAU for the first round of the FCS Playoffs
A day to give to Torero Athletics
Football: Week Twelve
Toreros gear up for last game of conference play
Football: Week Eleven
Toreros prep for game day
Torero Timeout with Summer Mason
USD junior women's soccer player takes a timeout during a study break
On Saturday We Dominate
Big wins for both USD Football and USD Volleyball Saturday afternoon
Torero Timeout with Henry Lander
Men's soccer sophomore Henry Lander takes a Timeout between classes
Football: Week Ten
Toreros gear up for home game against Drake
Men's and women's basketball teamed up to host a Halloween event
Football: Week Nine
Big day in the weight room for the Toreros
Seamus McFadden's Legacy
39 years in review by former players and coaches
Alumni, staff and the San Diego community gathered to celebrate Men's Soccer Head Coach Seamus McFadden
Sixth Man Night: The Event
Recap video of the October 12 fundraiser event
Women's Basketball: WCC Hoops Tip-Off
Coach Fisher and Maya Hood attend media day in Las Vegas
Men's Basketball: New Heights
Men's basketball celebrates the third era of the program
Alumni and family gathered together for an eventful Homecoming weekend
Torero Timeout with Kristen Gengenbacher
Take a Timeout with the senior setter at her house in South Mission Beach
Football: Week Seven
Football preps for this Saturday's Homecoming game
Torero Timeout with Jonathan Petersen
USD Football's Petersen strolls through Belmont Park during his bye week
USD Basketball: Practice No. 1
Check out what practice looks like for the Torero ballers
Football: Week Five
Toreros prep for big game against Dayton
Football: FaceTime with Lion's Jamal Agnew
USD Head Coach Dale Lindsey congratulates Torero alum Agnew on his first NFL touchdown
Football: Brian Fogarty PFL Classic
From tailgates to touchdowns, we got it all
Football: Week Four
Hard work follows these Toreros on and off the field
Cross Country: USD Invite
Missed Saturday's race? Don't stress, we have it right here
Football: Week Three
Sights and sounds of USD Football at work
USD Invite: Take a Lap
Men's and women's cross country host the USD Invite: the only home race for the Toreros
Football: Week Two
Football hard at work for their first away game at UC Davis
Three Games - One Day
Ole Weekend was one to remember for USD Athletics
Football: Week One
Toreros preps for their home opener against Western New Mexico
2017 Football Season Preview
Head Coach Dale Lindsey and Senior Ray Clark discuss upcoming season
USD Athletics Highlight Video 2016-17
Don't miss the best highlights from this past year in USD Athletics