Darron Stiles nabs Web.com Tour victory at News Sentinel Open
FARRAGUT, TN (August 26, 2012) - Darron Stiles held off a host of competitors in the final round at Fox Den Country Club. His 4-under 67 put him at 18-under par 266, good enough to take home the trophy at the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot.
Scott Gardiner, D.J. Brigman and Nicholas Thompson finished in a tie for second place at 17-under 267.
Erik Flores finished alone in fifth at 16-under 268 while four players shared sixth place at 15-under 269. Those players are Brice Garnett, two-time major champion, John Daly, Scott Dunlap and Jeff Gove.
Stiles got off to a shaky start after missing a short putt for par on his first hole of the day. It was an improbable make on the next hole though that was crucial in allowing him to get back in his comfort zone.
"The key was on number two making a 30-footer for birdie," the all-time leading money-earner on the Web.com Tour pointed out. "That got me settled back down and allowed me to just let my ball striking take over."
With a birdie at the par-5 fifth, the Florida Southern University alum felt that he still had a chance to win. And when he walked by a leaderboard on the way to 10 tee, he knew that he was still in it.
"I saw Scotty (Scott Gardiner) in at 17-under," the Florida native explained. "I knew that if I just stuck to my game plan, that if I'm in or close to the lead heading into the back nine that I had a shot at it."
The turning point of the round came with an unlikely chip-in for eagle on the par-5 10th. That put the 27-year touring pro at 17-under and tied for the lead. And once he made birdie on 14 to take the outright lead, Stiles was in the driver seat and in control of the tournament.
Coming into 18 with a one-shot lead, Stiles had a familiar feeling. It was in 2002, the last time he won this tournament, that he had a one-stroke lead with one to play. Without a second thought he pulled the driver from the bag and piped it straight down the middle of the fairway.
"The game plan was to stay aggressive all day and don't deviate from that," the 39-year-old noted. "Today was eerily similar to Sunday 10 years ago, in that I had a one-stroke lead with one to play."
With a wedge in hand, Stiles hit the center of the green and two putts later became a two-time News Sentinel Open champion. The father-of-two believes his win today is a jumping off point for the rest of the season, for it was only a few months ago that he fell short at the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
"I let one slip away in Greeneville by three-putting the last hole," Stiles admitted. "This is the spring board for the rest of the year. Now that I got a win, I can get another one."
With this victory the Pinehurst Resort member moves into the eighth spot on the money list and comes that much closer to locking up his PGA TOUR card for 2013. So what does Stiles feel this win will do for him the rest of this year?
"It will free me up for the rest of the year," the News Sentinel Open champion said with a smile. "I can be more aggressive. I can get up to Pittsburgh and just go for it. Why not win two in a row?"