Stiles Happy To Be Playing

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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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