Stiles Happy To Be Playing

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 27, 2003, 4:00 pm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Darron Stiles has a yearly reminder of just how lucky he is to be playing golf for a living.
 
He visits with his doctor in Tampa for X-rays to guard against the return of cancer that forced surgeons to use a bone graft from his right hip to repair his jaw. He has been healthy at each checkup, but Stiles said he probably still doesn't know just how serious the tumor found in 1989 really was.
 
'I'd love to see the chart and all that and all the pictures, but he won't show them to me,' Stiles said.
 
That leaves Stiles busy enjoying his first full season on the PGA Tour, and he responded Thursday with a career-low 7-under-par 64 that gave him a share of a one-stroke lead with 49-year-old Jay Haas in the suspended first round of the St. Jude Classic.
 
The tournament, sponsored by FedEx, raises approximately $1 million a year for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Stiles said that tie-in made his round more special.

'It would be a lot more special if I'm still here on Sunday doing this,' Stiles said.
 
A total of 56 player were still on the TPC at Southwind on Thursday night when play was stopped for rain and darkness. Dennis Peoples was at 6 under with two holes left, while defending champion Len Mattiace was 5 under when play stopped on his 18th hole.
 
They were due back Friday morning to finish the first round and almost immediately begin the second.
 
Robert Damron was a stroke back. David Gossett, who grew up playing this course, matched Stan Utley and Dennis Paulson at 66.
 
Stiles, a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, nearly had the lead to himself after a bogey-free round with five birdies and an eagle. He had just hit to 12 feet on the par-4 18th when thunderstorms stopped play for nearly two hours.
 
He worked on the putt on the practice green just before play resumed, but the ball circled the lip of the cup, forcing him to tap in for par. He didn't mind.
 
'It's a great feeling no doubt,' he said. 'Obviously on this tour, I haven't been in that position. It's been a while since I've been a first-round leader on any tour.'
 
This time last year, Stiles was on the other end of Tennessee winning the Knoxville Open on the Nationwide Tour. He has made the cut in eight of 13 PGA events this year with his best finish a tie for 21st in the Houston Open in April.
 
Everything worked for him Thursday, when he hit his irons very well with his longest birdie putt a 20-footer on No. 8. He eagled the par-5, 527-yard fifth despite hitting his drive into the left rough and then a 5-wood 15 feet behind the hole. He had the chance to watch Steve Allen putt the same line and holed out for his eagle.
 
Two bogeys in a nine-birdie round kept Haas from having the lead to himself in a round that featured a career-best seven straight birdies. He recovered from a bogey on his first hole after he hit his drive against a tree by getting his putter going and needed just 24 putts.
 
Haas rolled in for birdie from 3 feet on No. 2, two-putted from 50 feet on No. 3, sank 18-footers on the next two holes and then rolled in from 12 feet on both Nos. 6 and 7.
 
He knew the PGA Tour record is eight in a row because his uncle Bob Goalby, the 1968 Masters champion, was the first of five players to do that. He was thinking of that when he hit his drive on the par-4 ninth but hit a pitching wedge to the right side of the green. He wound up with a 10-foot putt to save par.
 
'I got a little nervous on No. 9, trying to stuff one in there,' Haas said. 'It was just a fun day.'
 
Divots: Tim Petrovic also had seven straight birdies earlier this season in the Ford Championship at Doral. ... Coming into this week, Haas held the lowest stroke average at this event since the tournament moved to the TPC at Southwind course in 1989. He averaged 68.8 in 54 rounds and has missed the cut only once in 14 starts at this course. ... John Daly withdrew before his tee time because of illness. Fred Wadsworth withdrew after two holes, while David Berganio Jr. withdrew after a first-round 79. A foot injury forced Brent Geiberger to pull out after a 75.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • FedEx St. Jude Classic Leaderboard
     
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.