Darron in Stiles at FedEx

By Sports NetworkMay 26, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 FedEx St. Jude ClassicMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Darron Stiles fired a 6-under 64 on Friday to move into the lead after two rounds of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He stands at 7-under-par 133 and is two clear at the TPC at Southwind.
 
Overnight leader Chris Smith only managed a 1-over 71 on Friday, but is tied for second place with Tom Pernice, Jr. (68) and last week's Colonial winner Tim Herron (65). The trio is knotted at minus-5.
 
Two-time winner David Toms shot a 3-under 67 and is tied for fifth place with tour rookie Camilo Villegas (66) and Brian Gay (67). That trio finished 36 holes at 4-under-par 136.
 
Stiles opened on the back nine Friday and collected his first birdie at the 10th. He missed the fairway with his drive, but hit an 8-iron to 12 feet and converted the putt.
 
At the par-3 11th, Stiles hit a 9-iron to 15 feet and made that putt. That was a welcome change from Thursday when he posted a double-bogey 5.
 
'That was a sigh of relief I was on the green,' admitted Stiles.
 
He made it three in a row at the 12th when his 25-footer found the bottom of the cup. Stiles parred 13 and 14, but hit a 9-iron to three feet to set up birdie at 15. He two-putted from the front of the green for a birdie at the par-5 16th.
 
After the turn, Stiles hit a 6-iron 18 feet past the hole. He ran home that birdie try, but trouble loomed for Stiles.
 
At the par-4 fifth, Stiles hit a strong drive, but found tree problems with his second. He tried to get over the trees, but hit one and the ball dropped to the ground. Stiles punched a 3-iron under the trees into a front bunker. He blasted out to 20 feet and two-putted for a double-bogey to fall back to minus-5.
 
He rebounded at the sixth when his sand-wedge second stopped 15 feet from the flag. Stiles rolled in that birdie putt, then built his two-shot lead thanks to another 15-foot birdie putt at the ninth.
 
'Just another solid ball-striking day,' said Stiles. 'You've got to work the ball around the golf course a little bit. That's the style I like to see. I'd rather there be some shot making.'
 
Stiles is winless on the PGA TOUR and his best finish this season in five starts was a tie for 41st in New Orleans. He owns four Nationwide Tour victories, including a playoff win this year at the Rheem Classic.
 
His best play this year has been in the last month, all events that featured windy conditions.
 
'I don't know if it's the fact that I'm used to it since I've been playing in it basically the last month or I learned how to play in it. I think I have,' said Stiles. 'I did not used to like to play in a lot of wind, but I think I've mentally gotten a lot smarter to play the right shot.'
 
Smith played the back nine first and traded two birdies and two bogeys. He was at 6 under par until his 6-iron approach at the fifth ran off the green. Smith chipped to 6 feet, but missed that putt to fall back into a tie for second.
 
Pernice had an up-and-down round with four birdies in a six-hole span from the 12th, his third hole of the round. He double-bogeyed the 18th, then had another inconsistent second nine.
 
He bogeyed the second, but chipped in from in front of the green for an eagle at the third. Pernice bogeyed four and five, but a birdie at the eighth got him to minus-5.
 
Herron flew out of the gate with three straight birdies, but mixed two birdies and two bogeys around the turn. He got up-and-down from a bunker for a birdie at the par-5 16th, then holed a 40-footer for birdie at 17.
 
Herron admits the relief of finally winning again helped this week.
 
'It was like a relief getting over a hump of a seven-year drought of no winning and being up there quite a bit,' said Herron. 'I know I've been playing well, and I don't see why I can't keep it going this week.'
 
Robert Garrigus, Ryan Palmer and Dan Forsman all posted 2-under-par 68s on Friday and are tied for eighth place at minus-3.
 
Defending champion Justin Leonard shot a one-under 69 on Friday and is part of a group tied for 29th place at plus-1.
 
The 36-hole cut came at 4-over-par 144 with 74 players advancing to the weekend.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Full Coverage - FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.