Darron Stiles Headed Back to PGA Tour
You’ve got to give Darron Stiles credit. The guy just keeps on keeping on in his quest to become a regular on the PGA Tour.
Stiles, a Pinehurst resident via St. Petersburg, Fla., is almost a certainty to return to the “Big Show” in 2013 after winning the Web.com Tour’s News Sentinel Open last weekend.
Stiles is a 39-year-old veteran of the professional golf wars and has spent five years on the PGA Tour. Now, after winning the $90,000 first-place check in Knoxville, Tenn., he’s in great shape to make it back.
Stiles took the lead into the final round in Knoxville and proved his mettle by shooting a 4-under-par 67 to win by a stroke.
The win moved him from 30th on the Web.com money list to eighth, and the top 25 will earn PGA Tour cards for next year. Stiles has won $200,911 this year and is the tour’s all-time money leader with five victories in his career, earning a total of $1,815,688.
“This is the springboard for the rest of the year,” an elated Stiles was quoted as saying after the win. “Now that I got a win, I can get another one.
“It will free me up for the rest of the year. I can be more aggressive. I can get up to Pittsburgh and just go for it. Why not win two in a row?
“Another win (and) I can get to my goal of being the leading money winner this year on tour. That’s one of the few goals that I’ve set for myself for the year, and now that I’ve got a win — which was also a goal — the goal is to get another one.”
Stiles was obviously sharp, having opened with back-to-back rounds of 66. But he told reporters he felt the turning point came on the par-5 10th hole, where he chipped in for an eagle 3 to move into a tie for the lead at 17 under par.
Stiles won this same event 10 years earlier, but this time he was presented with an orange jacket, emblematic of the victory, after tapping in a one-foot winning par putt.
“The game plan was to stay aggressive all day and don’t deviate from that,” he told reporters. “Today was eerily similar to Sunday 10 years ago, in that I had a one-stroke lead with one to play.”
Stiles moved to Pinehurst a few years ago to be near his parents and lists Pinehurst No. 2 as his favorite golf course.
Playing in the 2014 U.S. Open in Pinehurst has to be one of his top bucket list items. He’s played in three previous Opens, making the cut twice.
Stiles has always been a fighter. He was a three-time All-America player at Florida Southern College and helped lead the team to an NCAA Division II national championship in 1995.
He was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his jaw in 1989 and underwent successful surgery. He has an aunt and a sister-in-law who are breast cancer survivors, and he’s a strong supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Some random items garnered from the Internet reveal …:
n Stiles is a peanut butter lover and never travels without a jar.
n His first car was a Cadillac Cimarron.
n Michael Breed, the Golf Channel teaching guru, is the man he turns to for help with his swing.
n His biggest thrills? In golf, the holing out for eagle on the final hole to win the 1999 Dominion Open in Richmond, Va.
n Outside golf, the births of his two children.
n His favorite sports teams are the University of Miami, the Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
n He always marks his ball on the green with a 1960s’ coin
n Seeing the Grand Canyon and visiting the pyramids are two items on his bucket list.
n He has a Twitter account, @dstilesgolf.
It’s going to be interesting to watch how Stiles finishes the season. Without the pressure of making the Top 25 and earning his PGA card, he may just relax and finish with a surge.
There have been some rocky times in his lengthy career, but it appears things may be smoothing out. He’s earned it.
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