Stiles fires second straight 66 to lead News Sentinel Open by one

By news services

Series: Tour

Published: Saturday, August 25, 2012 | 8:30 p.m.

FARRAGUT, Tenn. – Darron Stiles put together another solid round at Fox Den Country Club on Saturday. His second consecutive 5-under 66 puts him at 14-under 199, good enough for a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the News Sentinel Open on the Tour.

Patrick Sheehan and Erik Flores share second place at 13-under 200 after 54 holes.


Jeff Maggert won the inaugural edition of the News Sentinel Open, then known as the Ben Hogan Knoxville Open, in 1990.

James Sacheck is alone in fourth at 12-under 201, while B.J. Staten, two-time major champion John Daly, Kent Jones, Scott Dunlap and Adam Hadwin share fifth place at 11-under 202.

Stiles, the all-time Tour money leader, feels that his advantage is that he can hit the driver and get himself in the best possible position to make birdies.

“For me, being aggressive is hitting driver, that’s the straightest club in my bag,” he explained. “You have to keep the ball in the correct position off the tee, and then from there I am going to have short irons in and I can be real aggressive firing at the flags.”

Stiles, who won here in 2002, has played this tournament 11 times before this year, nine of which have been here at Fox Den. It’s that familiarity that allows him to get good feelings when reminiscing about his past success on this golf course.

“The course is a little different with some of the changes that they’ve made,” the Florida Southern alum pointed out. “The holes still go the same way, the looks are the same and the targets are still the same. I have always had the positive memories when I come back.”

So does the current leader have a number in mind that he believes will get the job done?

“I finished at 16 (under) when I won and I was at nine yesterday,” the father-of-two remarked. “If I shot another nine, I will finish at 18 and I will be happy with that.”

Second-round leader Erik Flores admitted that he struggled with playing in the final group, but was proud of the way he fought through the nerves.

“It was a tough day playing in the final group,” Flores revealed. “I did not get off to a great start, but managed my emotions well, which is what I was most proud of. That kind of propelled me the rest of the round to keep it going.”

The California native relied heavily on his short game -- a chip-in on No. 9 for birdie helped him stay in a good position heading into the final round.

“The key to the round was my recoveries from trouble spots,” the Tour rookie pointed out. “The best thing I did all day was scramble. I kept my head in it and stay focused.”

The third-year pro didn’t shy away from the question when asked what it’s going to take to get his first win on the Tour tomorrow.

“I would not mind 18 under,” Flores said with a smile. “I need to shoot at least 5 under, anything below that won’t do it. So it is definitely doable.”

Patrick Sheehan is also one stroke back but admitted that he has struggled at times this year.

“I haven’t been playing very well this year,” he said. “I had stretches where I would play well. My ball striking has been good and my putting has not been very good. It’s been an up-and-down year, I just have not been putting multiple rounds together. It’s been a struggle but there are definitely signs of life there.”

The University of Hartford alum fired a 5-under 66 and credits his iron game and putting to his good play this week.

“I am hitting fairways and hitting greens and making my putts when I am close,” noted the 20-year pro. “That is what you have to do when you have a wedge and you get it to 10 or 15 feet.”

Like Stiles and Flores, the Florida resident has an eerily similar number in mind as to what it will take to get the job done on Sunday.

“If we get another perfect day of weather I would think you’re going to have to shoot 18 under,” the Rhode Island native disclosed. “I think 18 is a good number, I like 18 right now.”

Third-Round Notes:

--James Sacheck is looking for a good finish to what has been a solid week of golf so far. The former Texas Christian Horned Frog followed up a bogey-free 65 in Round 2 with a 4-under 67. His best finish this year came at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, where he ended up tied for seventh.

The third-year pro will be in the second-to-last group Sunday and has a plan in place that he believes will bring him success.

“You’re going to have to take some chances, but this golf course is such that you’re going to have to take your medicine at times as well,” the Indiana native pointed out. “So I’m going to try and play within myself and see what happens tomorrow.”

Sacheck may get a little nervous with obvious inexperience in this position, but he believes that you must embrace the nerves of playing with a chance to win on Sunday.

“This is what we practice for every single day,” the Texas resident said with a smile. “This is exactly where you want to be and I’m just going to try and enjoy it.”

--The crowds were out following John Daly, and the two-time major champion did not disappoint, firing a 5-under 66. This was the second consecutive 66 for Daly and he attributes the good play to his ball striking.

“I love the way I’m hitting the golf ball, I’ve been hitting it good all year,” the former Arkansas Razorback revealed. “I like my game plan going in to a tournament. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that confident over tee shots.I feel like I’m seeing the shot that I want to hit and I’m doing it more than I ever have.”

The California native is ranked fifth in ball striking this week, and his best tournament of the year in the United States came at the Reno-Tahoe Open, where he finished tied for fifth.

No matter what happens Sunday, the plan for the rest of the year is simple and Daly has a specific goal in mind.

“I’m actually going to Europe and Asia mostly in the winter,” noted the Arkansas resident. “I’m 72nd right now on the European Tour Order of Merit and my goal is to get in the top 60.”

The next stop on the Tour is the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa., Aug. 27-Sept. 2.