All-News4Jax boys golf: Creekside’s Riley proved a quick study on course

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Andrew Riley got into golf for all the reasons that most younger boys do.

He wanted to drive the golf cart.

Now a senior at Creekside, Riley, the All-News4Jax boys golfer of the year, quickly broadened his horizons. He went from just driving his grandfather around at the course to being the top golfer in a county that produces nothing but top golfers and record-setting teams.

Riley said that he hesitates to say the game came naturally to him because it would shortchange the amount of work that he put into it. But he gained a feel for the sport much quicker than most, considering that he didn’t start golfing competitively until four years ago.

“For some reason I was pretty good,” Riley said. “I was hitting the ball in the air and straight, and it was weirdest thing in the world because I never had done that before. He told me I needed to give it a shot.”

On his grandfather’s suggestion, Riley began hitting more frequently with friends and splicing that in between his first love, baseball. He juggled both for a bit in seventh grade before devoting all of his attention to golf the following year.

“I kind of knew I started late so the only way I was able to catch up was to outwork people,” Riley said. “Kind of my motto.”

Riley won the St. Johns County golf championship back-to-back seasons and tied for fifth in the Class 3A state tournament. In a county that saw Ponte Vedra win its fourth consecutive team state championship, Riley knew that standing out in St. Johns is as difficult as it gets.

Not bad for a converted baseball player who used to just like to drive a golf cart around the course.

“Some people think high school golf isn’t the strongest thing in the world. Our county, I think, is just as good as any other tournament,” Riley said. “That’s kind of been one of the main things is knowing that every time I tee it up, it’s a good field, for sure.”

First team

Golfer, High school, Class

Danny Erickson, Ponte Vedra, Jr.

Why he’s here: State runner-up with 2-over 146 in Class 2A tournament. District champ with a 1-under 71. T-9 at region with 3-over 75.

Cam Goldknopf, Bolles, Fr.

Why he’s here: T-2 at in Class 1A state championship with a 5-over 149, four strokes behind the winner. Took 9th at district with 3-over 75. Tied for 3rd at region with 2-over 74.

Scotty Kennon, Ponte Vedra, Sr.

Why he’s here: Wake Forest signee was state runner-up in Class 2A with a 1-under 143 as Sharks won fourth straight state title. Even-par 72 for T-3 at region.

Andrew Riley, Creekside, Sr.

Why he’s here: Finished T-5 in Class 3A state tournament with a 1-over 145. District champ with 7-under 65. T-8 at region with 1-under 71. Back-to-back champ in St. Johns County championship where he carded a 6-under 66.

Clay Tucker, Bishop Kenny, Sr.

Why he’s here: Third in Class 2A state championship with 3-over 147. Shot a 7-over 79 for a 7th at district. Carded 1-over 73 in region to finish 5th.

Second team

Golfer, High school, Class

Chase Carroll, Middleburg, Jr.

Why he’s here: Region champ with a 3-under 69 and district champ with an even-par 72. Went T-35 at 17-over 161 in Class 2A state championship.

Andrew Davis, Fleming Island, Jr.

Why he’s here: Finished T-11 in Class 3A state tournament with 4-over 148. T-12 at district with 78. T-8 at region with 71.

Will McGriff, Ponte Vedra, Jr.

Why he’s here: T-6 at state with 7-over 151. Carded a 4-over 76 and took 3rd at district. Took 13th at region with 4-over 76.

Colton Swartz, Fleming Island, So.

Why he’s here: T-15 in Class 3A state tournament with 7-over 151. T-5 at district with even-par 72. T-3 at region with 3-under 69

Adam Vermut, Wolfson, Jr.

Why he’s here: Took 17th at state with 9-over 153. Had a T-5 at district with 1-over 73. Tied for region champ with 1-over 73.

Honorable mention

Golfer, High school, Class

Jameson Adams, Fleming Island, Jr.

Jack Barned, Ponte Vedra, So.

Carson Brewer, Providence, So.

Sam Davis, Wolfson, Jr.

Will Davis, Wolfson, Sr.

Patrick Farson, Creekside, Sr.

Ty Folsom, Columbia, Jr.

Andrew McLauchlan, Providence, Jr.

Cody Tucker, Bishop Kenny, So.

Alexander Waller, Wolfson, Sr.

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