Stiles leads by one heading into final round

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John Daly's tied for fifth after three rounds of the News Sentinel Open.
August 25, 2012
Royce Thompson, Staff

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


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

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

The current 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," the Florida native 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 CC. It's that familiarity that allows the Tour veteran 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 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."

The second-round leader, Erik Flores, admitted that he struggled with playing in the final group today, 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 today; a chip-in on nine 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 did not 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 revealed that he has struggled at times this year..

"I haven't been playing very well this year," the PGA TOUR veteran admitted. "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, today 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 two with a 4-under, 67, in the third round. 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 tomorrow 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 T5.

No matter what happens tomorrow, 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."

• Six of the top-10 Tour money winners are in the field this week. The following players made the cut:

Casey Wittenberg (#2) Lee Williams (#7)

Player Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Pos
Darron Stiles (2002) 67 66 66 1
Jeff Gove (1999) 68 67 69 T14
Kevin Johnson (2009) 71 76 CUT

• Three past champions are in the field this week:

Player Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Pos
Phillip Pettit Jr. 71 68 69 T51
Wes Roach 68 69 71 T51
Casey Wittenberg 63 72 69 T14
B.J. Staten 68 70 64 T5
Garrett Willis 69 72 CUT
Doug Barron 71 73 CUT
Chase Carroll 73 74 CUT
Luke List 72 70 CUT
Scott Moran 70 75 CUT
Audie Johnson 75 73 CUT

• There are nine players with ties to Tennessee in the field this week:

• Players who were bogey-free in the third round:

64 - B.J. Staten 65 - Matt Weibring 66 - Matt Davidson 67 - Nicholas Thompson 68 - Michael Putnam, Peter Tomasulo

Fox Den CC
Round Front 9 (35) Back 9 (36) Total (71)
R1 35.346 34.865 70.212
R2 34.948 35.252 70.200
R3 34,707 34.747 69.453

• Scoring averages for the week:

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