'He Shot The Easiest 66 I've Seen' - Wayne Riley On His Surprise Round With McIlroy

The Golf Monthly columnist describes his recent casual round with Rory at Seminole in Florida

Wayne Riley working for Sky Sports at the 2022 Players Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last month, Nick Dougherty revealed on his Instagram page that he and Rory McIlroy had enjoyed a round of golf at Seminole in Florida with McIlroy’s dad, Gerry, and former professional, Wayne Riley.

Now Riley has revealed more details about the impromptu round in his column for Golf Monthly. He explains how the round came about – and how he found McIlroy’s company: “Myself and Nick were chatting with Rory at the Genesis Invitational and I mentioned that I was playing with his dad, Gerry, who I often talk to on the fairways when I’m commentating on his son, the following week. He just said, ‘Can I play?’ and the following Tuesday we took to the first tee at glorious Seminole."

If McIlroy’s inclusion in the round was unexpected, the ability he showed on the course more than exceeded Riley’s expectations. He continued: “It was incredible how well he played. He shot the easiest 66 I’ve ever seen and I’m telling you now, if he’d played like that at Sawgrass, no one would have got close. I’m not quite sure why it’s not happening for him in the big events at the moment, but my god he’s impressive.”

Those comments echo the descriptions given by Dougherty of the encounter. The 39-year-old fellow Sky Sports commentator was left in awe of McIlroy’s talent during the round, describing his ability as the closest he’s seen to Tiger Woods. Dougherty, who also used to play professionally, said: "I’ve been lucky enough to play with Tiger in his prime at a US Open where he was head and shoulders above the rest of us and as much as I am in no way the player I was then, I can still remember how that felt and yesterday was as close as I have seen to that level of excellence.”

Riley then confirms what many would suspect – that he and Dougherty were no match for the McIlroys. “They won, obviously. It was just four mates having a knock, as you would with your regular four-ball.” However, as if to prove there were no hard feelings in defeat, Riley also described how impressed with McIlroy he is as a person: “He’s the politest person and there are no airs and graces about him whatsoever – he’s just a humble, normal guy.”

Australian Riley, who had six professional career wins before turning to commentary, was less impressed with his own form on the day. He said: “I’m a bit annoyed that I didn’t play well and better resemble the player that I used to be, but that’s life! I’m not sure it would have made much of a difference to the overall score anyway. But we have a giggle and a laugh and that’s what it’s all about. After the golf, we went into the clubhouse and the locker room and had a drink, sat around and had a good chat. It was just like shooting the breeze with your mates after your regular Saturday morning game. It was really cool.”

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.