Golf: Riley leads Scheffler by 4 at somber Colonial after news of player’s death

Published 7:29 am Sunday, May 26, 2024


FORT WORTH, Texas— Davis Riley was finishing a 4-under 66 for a four-shot lead over surging Scottie Scheffler at Colonial while PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan conducted interviews about the death of two-time tour winner Grayson Murray.

Another week, another dose of unsettling news off the course, this time at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Scheffler’s arrest during the PGA Championship a week ago was triggered by an accident that killed a pedestrian. This death hit closer to home for the players, and Monahan quickly flew to Texas after getting word Saturday that the 30-year-old Murray had died.

Murray, who dealt with alcohol and mental health issues in the past, withdrew late in his second round at Colonial on Friday, and Monahan was told of his death a little less than 24 hours later.

So the Sunday question of whether Riley can hold off world No. 1 Scheffler for his first solo victory is now mixed with how players might honor Murray just four months after he won the Sony Open in Hawaii

“It’s not just about tomorrow,” Monahan said. “It’s about the weeks ahead, it’s about the months ahead. There are a lot of people that are going to be carrying a heavy heart for a long period of time out on the PGA Tour, and there’s a family that is obviously devastated that we need to support.”

Riley was at 14-under 196.

Scheffler shot 63 and was alone in second at 10 under. The hometown favorite has played his last 41 holes in 13 under since his first triple-bogey of the year in the first round, which was his second round over par (72) in the previous three coming off a streak of 41 rounds at par better.

The Masters champ has a new streak going, but once again found himself answering questions that had nothing to do with his round.

“Obviously, the news hasn’t really sunk in quite yet, but I’m thinking about his family and praying hard for all of them,” Scheffler said. “I got to know Grayson a bit better over the last six months. There’s not really a way to put into words how sad and tragic it is.”

Pierceson Coody, the grandson of Texan and 1971 Masters winner Charles Coody, and Hayden Buckley were a stroke behind Scheffler after 69s.

Tony Finau was alone in sixth at 7 under after a 68. Collin Morikawa (67), who played in the final group at the Masters and the PGA Championship this year, was at 6 under. Morikawa was tied with three others, including Keegan Bradley, who was in the three-man playoff Murray won at the Sony Open.

Webb Simpson had known Murray since he was 8, and and Murray was the first winner of the junior tournament named after Simpson, who found out about the death about 10 minutes before teeing off.

“When you hear news like that over the phone, you don’t think it’s real at first,” said Simpson, who shot 75 and was 1 over. “And, you know, you hear the emotion coming from our swing coach and then you realize it’s real.”

Riley, whose only victory was the Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans with Nick Hardy last year, birdied five of the first eight holes before consecutive bogeys, just his second and third of the week.

The 27-year-old, who had seven pars and a birdie the rest of the way, contended at Colonial two years ago, settling for a tie for fourth while Scheffler lost to Sam Burns in a playoff.

Now Riley will play with Scheffler, who is bogey-free since the triple-bogey and has 10 wins and a pair of top-three finishes at Colonial since 2022.

“I’ve known Scottie for a long time and played a lot of junior golf with him, college golf, and he obviously is playing some really good golf right now,” Riley said. “So he’s going to come out swinging, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and it will be a fun day competing out there.”

Scheffler was seven shots behind Riley on the back nine but birdied three of the last four holes to close the gap.

“I didn’t obviously know what the leaders were going to do, but just tried to do my best to not look too far ahead and continue to go out there and execute and try and give myself as many looks as possible,” Scheffler said.

Jordan Spieth, Scheffler’s fellow hometown favorite, shot 71 and was 1 under. Defending champion Emiliano Grillo, who made the cut on the number, shot 73 and was 5 under, tied for last among those playing on the weekend.

Charles Coody, who grew up in West Texas, is an 86-year-old honorary member at Colonial. His grandson is contending on a sponsor exemption with players seeing the course for the first time since an overhaul that started at the end of last year’s event, the longest-running on tour at the same venue.

Pierceson Coody started the round two shots back, but the deficit was seven after his double-bogey at the par-4 ninth.