Stiles holds first-round lead at BMW Charity Pro-AmMay 17, 2012
Joe Chemycz, Nationwide Tour staff
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Darron Stiles took advantage of soft conditions, firing an 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation. This unique Nationwide Tour event features 168 professionals, plus amateurs and celebrities in a better-ball format hosted by three different golf courses in Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C.
Stiles took advantage of overnight rain at Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg, posting a round that included eight birdies and no bogeys. D.J. Brigman and Jim Herman, who played the same course as Stiles, both find themselves one stroke back after firing bogey-free 65s.
Five players are two strokes off the pace, including Derek Fathauer, Robert Streb, Jim Renner, Tim Wilkinson and former Clemson Tiger Sam Saunders. All the leaders were at Carolina Country club except Renner and Wilkinson, who played the Thornblade Club in Greenville, the host course in the rotation and site of Sunday's final round. The lowest round recorded on Greenville Country Club's Chanticleer course was a 67 by Aaron Watkins, Reid Edstrom and Aaron Goldberg.
Stiles, a Florida native who now lives in Pinehurst, N.C., broke down the reasons why he was able to have success in the first round.
"The extra moisture on the greens meant you could basically fire at every pin and not have to worry about it running away from you," the four-time Nationwide Tour winner explained. "But the key today was my longest birdie was from 20 feet. I hit it really good today with my irons and I made most of the putts that I had."
Everything didn't come easy for Stiles today, in fact on the first two holes he had to scramble and make a pair of 8-foot par putts. Stiles believed those two putts played an important role in giving him confidence on the greens.
"They were huge, just because the greens are rolling so well," said Stiles. "The greens are at a good making speed. And to make those two putts on the first two holes was key."
After those par saves Stiles got hot carding five birdies in his next seven holes. He added two more birdies before making another unlikely one at the long par-3 17th.
"I had 222 yards," said Stiles, who also shot 65 at Carolina CC in last year's first round. "I just hit a 3-iron hybrid. That was one of my longest birdie putts of the day, right at 20 feet. And I finally got one of those to the hole. It felt good to get that one there."
With three rounds to go, Stiles knows he must focus on his ball striking to continue his good play.
"Like I said ball striking is the key," the leader said. "The more divots I can take the more consistent my distance control is going to be."
Play resumes tomorrow and Saturday at Thornblade Club, Carolina Country Club and Greenville Country Club, with the low 14 celebrity/amateur teams playing their final round at Thornblade.
• Glen Day withdrew during the first round at Thornblade Club due to a rib injury.
• Thursday's weather: Partly cloudy with isolated showers & t-storms. Temp: 81FRH: 50% Chance of precip: 30%, Winds: ENE 5-10 mph
• There was a 30 minute delay at Carolina Country Club due to rain over the past few days.
• Players who were bogey-free in Round 1:
64 -- Darron Stiles (CC) 65 -- D.J. Brigman (CC), Jim Herman (CC) 66 -- Derek Fathauer (CC), Robert Streb (CC), Jim Renner (CC) 67 -- Steven Alker (CC), Aaron Watkins (GV), Alistair Presnell (TC), Brad Fitsch (TC) 68 -- Oscar Serna (CC), Paul Stankowski (CC) 70 -- Troy Merritt (TC)
• Darron Stiles and Steven Alker had bogey-free rounds in the same pairing.
Charles Warren 69 -3 T31 Nick Flanagan 67 -4 T21 Michael Sim 76 +4 T156
• Three past champions -- Charles Warren (2002), Nick Flanagan (2007) and Michael Sim (2009) - are in the field this week:
Brent Delahoussaye 67 -5 T9 Brian Duncan 75 +3 T142 Elliot Gealy 75 +3 T142 Matt Hendrix 74 +2 T129 Kevin Johnson 73 +1 T114 Ben Martin 74 +2 T129 David May 71 -1 T67 Sam Saunders 66 -6 T4 Charles Warren 69 -3 T31 Frank Wrenn IV 78 +6 T161
• Ten former Clemson players are in the field this week:
• Aaron Watkins, Reid Edstrom and Aaron Goldberg posted the best score of the day (5-under 67) at the Chanticleer Course at Greenville CC, which is making its tournament debut this week as a host course. Watkins raved about Chanticleer following his round: "I wouldn't change anything about the golf course. I wouldn't touch the greens. I wouldn't touch the rough. It's got enough length. It's just a flat out good golf course."
• Despite being the shortest of the three courses in the rotation at 6,864 yards, Chanticleer proved to be the toughest on day one. The field scoring average was 72.71 (.71 over par) vs. 70.07 (.93 under par) at Thornblade Club and 70.41 (1.59 under par) at Carolina CC.
• Only three of the top 20 scores were recorded at Chanticleer. Of the bottom 26 scores, 15 were shot at Chanticleer.
• Celebrating his 38th birthday today, Jason Gore had a rough go of it shooting 75 at Chanticleer. He made a triple-bogey 8 (No. 3) and a double-bogey 6 (No. 9) to turn in 39, but finished on a positive note birdieing Nos. 17 and 18.
• Charles Warren owns the GCC/Chanticleer course record. He shot 60 last October. Playing with him was fellow Clemson Tiger Brent Delahoussaye, whose record (62) Warren broke that day. Ironically, Warren and Delahoussaye are paired together the first three rounds this week. They play Chanticleer on Saturday.
• Leading money winner Luke List shot 75 (T143) at Chanticleer.
• The Nationwide Tour will take next week off before resuming the 2012 schedule at The Rex Hospital Open at TPC Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, N.C. May 28 -- June 3.