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June 26, 2003

Darron Stiles


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Darron Stiles, a 7-under 64, first round. Darron could have been over on the other side of Tennessee defending his 2002 Knoxville Open Championship on the Nationwide Tour. Of course he earned his PGA Tour card at the end of last year and now finds himself sharing the lead in the first round here in Memphis. No bogeys at all today.

DARRON STILES: No, I didn't. When I missed a green, I missed it in the right spot to be able to get it up-and-down fairly easily. The longest putt I had for par was about five, six feet. It was just a good solid day all the way around.

Q. Kind of ironic, though, isn't it, that the championship you would be defending is going on at the same time now. What is it about Tennessee that you seem to like?

DARRON STILES: It's actually the same pattern. Last year, I played the afternoon Pro Am on Wednesday, and I had been at home Monday-Tuesday of that same week and drove over from Asheville. Well, I did the same thing here. I didn't get in until 2:30 yesterday afternoon, went out and walked the course during the afternoon Pro Am just so I could see it, and here we are.

Q. Talk a little bit about what it was today that was playing well for you.

DARRON STILES: Really, I did everything pretty well today. I drove the ball really good, hit some great iron shots pretty much all day and then made the putts, which is what hasn't been happening the last few weeks, which is part of the reason for the two days off at home. It's just good to see that not seeing the golf course doesn't really affect me that much.

Q. How aware were you on 16 that you had just tied for the lead? I know you had two hours to think about that tie, but right when you made the birdie on 16, how aware were you?

DARRON STILES: Oh, I knew exactly where I was. I mean, I watched the scoreboards, so I knew exactly where I was.

Q. How tough was it hitting your shot there and then having to take the break and wait for two hours before going out and trying that putt for a chance at the lead by yourself?

DARRON STILES: It was a lot easier having just to hit the putt than if I had to go hit the shot still. Then I'd really have to worry about warming up. I didn't walk out there until two minutes before they blew the horn. I never really thought about it the whole time during the delay.

Q. Is that rare for you to take this time off before an event like this?

DARRON STILES: Yes. With the bad weather we had in D.C., going to the Open for the first time and dealing with that circus, which is basically what it is, and then dealing with the bad weather last week, I was just so exhausted mentally and physically that I needed to get away from golf for a couple days, so I did.

Q. With the tournament tie-in with St. Jude and your history with cancer, does this tournament carry maybe a little bit of a special meaning for you coming in here with that tie-in, and maybe talk to us about that history and how that has affected you in your life and as a golfer.

DARRON STILES: As far as the tie-in, yeah, I mean, it makes it a little bit more special to be here with what I went through. It would be a lot more special if I'm still here on Sunday doing this. But as far as what I went through, I look back at it and it was probably -- at the time I didn't know how serious it was. It was probably two or three years after everything was done that I realized how serious that everything was and could have been, how much different my life could have been from what it is now.

Q. Maybe just a situation where your parents kind of shielded you from the full knowledge?

DARRON STILES: Definitely, yeah. I was not told everything by them or by my doctor at the time, and I probably still don't know all the details from my doctor, and it's been 14 years. So yeah, I probably still don't know all the details. I mean, I'd love to see the chart and all that and all the pictures from it, but he won't show them to me.

Q. Do you typically routinely have to go back and check on --

DARRON STILES: I have to see him once a year. I have an X-ray done once a year and visit him in his office in Tampa.

Q. Talk about having a share of the lead at this point. It's first round and you're sharing with Jay Haas and there's still a bunch of golfers still to hit the course, but how special is that at this point in your career?

DARRON STILES: It's a great feeling no doubt. Obviously on this tour, I haven't been in that position, and it's been a while since I've been first round leader on any tour. I think all of my wins on the Nationwide Tour, I came from behind pretty much every week that I won. I mean, Richmond I holed it to win, Tri-cities I had the lead starting on Saturday, and then last year at Knoxville I was tied for the lead going into Sunday, but as far as being the first round leader, this is the first time in a while.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go ahead and walk us through the birdies and the eagle today starting with the one on 1.

DARRON STILES: On 1, driver right down the middle of the fairway, hit a choke 8-iron to about four feet right behind the hole.

On 3, didn't hit a great tee shot, kind of down the right side of the fairway. That tree that's out there in the middle kind of decided my second shot. I had 91 yards, hit a sand wedge just to the back of the green, almost spun it in the hole. It ended up about six feet short of the hole straight up the hill.

5, hit driver just in the left rough, then kind of thinned a 5-wood just a little bit, about 15 feet right behind the hole, actually got help there because Steven right in front of me had the exact same putt from about six inches behind me. If he had hit his a little harder he would have made it, so I made sure I saw that and hit mine a little harder.

8, hit 8-iron about 20 feet behind the hole, kind of an uphill right-to-left putt, made that.

12, driver right down the middle, wedge to about five feet, made that.

16, driver down the left side, 3-wood just over the back of the green, hit a good pitch shot to about eight feet and made that.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Darron.

End of FastScripts....

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