Wayne Riley: My Top 5 Moments In Broadcasting

Golf Monthly columnist and Sky Sports broadcaster Wayne Riley picks out his top moments he's witnessed inside the ropes

Wayne Riley and four of his favourite moments pictured
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It’s not been the most eventful couple of weeks on the global professional tours, so I thought I’d do something a bit different and count down my five favourite moments since I started working as an on-course commentator for Sky.

I do sometimes have to pinch myself that I’m able to walk the fairways with the world’s best players in the game’s biggest events. I don’t take it for granted.

One of the things I really look forward to is getting my schedule at the start of the year. Of course, I go straight to the Majors, but there are some events I always look out for after the year’s big four.

Two of those are the Irish Open and the BMW PGA Championship, and two of my top five broadcasting moments have come at those.

5. Lowry at Wentworth, 2022

Shane Lowry kisses the BMW PGA Championship trophy

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I have so many great memories at Wentworth – I held the course record there, 63, for over 20 years and I live just around the corner. It’s a special place and when the BMW PGA is on, the buzz is quite something. It’s like Ascot.

It’s incredible to be a part of and it was great to see Shane Lowry hold off Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm last year. Lowry had said how much he’d love to win at Wentworth, and he closed things out with a sublime approach to the last to set up a closing birdie and a one-stroke win. I was with the final group and that shot will stay with me for a long time.

4. McIlroy, 2016 Irish Open

Rory McIlroy's two fairway wood shots at the 2016 Irish Open

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Shane’s mate, Rory McIlroy, is number four on my list with his victory in the 2016 Irish Open at the K Club. If you’ve never been to an Irish Open, go. Seriously. There’s nothing quite like it – the atmosphere is special. It was unreal to watch Rory hit two unbelievable 5-woods to the 16th and 18th greens, the latter setting up a victory-sealing eagle.

I’ve played golf with Rory and discussed those shots and he actually says the approach to 16 was better, even though it finished some 20 feet away. He says it’s one of the greatest shots he’s ever hit, because there was water right, Russell Knox had just pulled ahead and he was in need of a spark. The atmosphere was just electric. I sensed something special was about to happen and walked directly behind him, about 50 paces back. It’s not something I normally do, but I’m so glad I did it.

3. Stenson vs Mickelson, Troon 2016

Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson embrace after the 2016 Open

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Third on my list is the 2016 Open Championship, when Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson had an almighty duel. On the 17th hole, Stenson hit the purest long-iron I’ve ever seen and heard. He didn’t hole the putt, but it was the best shot I’ve ever seen in the Open Championship. I was 60 yards in front up the fairway, but I could hear the thud off the clubface. It’s a brutal par 3 and he had Mickelson breathing down his neck.

Of course, he made birdie up 18, too. I actually picked up the divot from his approach and planned to give it to him after the round, but I chickened out in the end! It was a duel to rival Watson and Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977.

2. Portrush, 2019

Shane Lowry praises the crowd after winning the 2019 Open

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Another special, special Open was the 2019 Championship at Royal Portrush. I think it was the greatest Open and having an Irishman win on the island of Ireland was like nothing else I’ve experienced. There are certain times where I stop for a moment and reflect on how much of a privilege it is to do what I do for a living.

Marching along with Lowry and a joyous home crowd was one of them. It was an honour to be there calling shots. The celebrations afterwards were something else and there’s a reason The R&A is taking The Open back to Portrush so soon, in 2025. I just can’t wait.

1. G-Mac, Celtic Manor 2010

Graeme McDowell celebrates holing the winning putt at the 2010 Ryder Cup

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Lowry’s win almost made it to number one, but in the end I’ve gone with Graeme McDowell’s putt on the 16th during the Sunday singles in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. I’ve never heard a noise like it. There were thousands and thousands of people on the bank singing their hearts out.

I’m sure if you asked G-Mac what the loudest roar he’s ever heard is, he’d say that. That week, the weather was so bad for so long and the rain was torrential, but the sun decided to come out for that moment. It was like the golfing gods were shining a light on the Twenty Ten course. I just can’t believe it was 13 years ago. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Wayne Riley

One of the most popular faces from Sky Sports' award-winning golf team, Wayne has been a columnist for Golf Monthly since 2010, penning a monthly opinion piece in our magazine where he discusses all the hot topics from the professional game. A former two-time winner on the European Tour, Wayne has represented Australia in both the Alfred Dunhill and World Cup.