ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Steve Tiley is more famous in other parts of the world than he is in his homeland, such as Atlanta, Ga., and Cairo, Egypt.
If he continues to play as he did in the first round, his name may become more recognizable.
Tiley’s 6-under 66 will be celebrated at Georgia State University, where he played college golf, and at Mirage City Golf Club in Cairo, where he won the 2009 Egyptian Open. Members of Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club on the South Coast of England will toast his success. Tiley learned to play the game over the Deal links, where George Duncan won the 1920 Open Championship.
The 27-year-old played at Georgia State after transferring from Southeastern Louisiana. He was named to the Ping Honorable Mention All-America Team in 2005 after posting a season stroke average of 71.55, then the lowest average in Georgia State history. That and two wins meant he finished the season ranked 38th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Tiley’s transfer to Georgia State came after playing in the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon as an amateur, when he missed the cut. He looked set for a good professional career after those two wins in his junior year.
It hasn’t panned out that way
Tiley has not fulfilled his potential since joining the paid ranks in 2007. He is currently plying his trade on the European Challenge Tour. In nine events this season on Europe’s junior circuit, he has won just 12,204 euros and is ranked 57th on the money list.
He’s been playing so poorly this season that he considered pulling out of Open Qualifying to play in the Challenge Tour’s Credit Swisse Challenge event in Switzerland. “I missed three cuts on the Challenge Tour, and that’s a lot,” Tiley said. “To get into the Open is almost a lottery. The percentage was to play the Challenge Tour, then take my spot in this tournament further down the line.”
Tiley earned his ticket to St. Andrews by surviving a three-man playoff at Scotscraig after manager Chubby Chandler persuaded him to send in his entry form.
Tiley has a chance of making the cut this year after his excellent score. Back in 2004 he returned rounds of 71-76 to miss the last two rounds.
“It was all about the experience then,” he said. “This week it’s all about the golf.”
Tiley played the 2008 season on the Asian Tour, where he played in stifling heat and conditions to which he wasn’t accustomed. An Englishman in Asia tends to suffer from more than just heat stroke. Getting used to the different mixes of food takes some beating, too.
No wonder Tiley seemed to suffer from Delhi belly “every other week,” a euphemism for diarrhea. “I could have been sponsored by Imodium but you get used to it,” he quipped.
Tiley’s biggest moment in golf before St. Andrews came in Egypt last year when he won the Egyptian Open. The man from Canterbury, England, won $20,000 over a field that included Colin Montgomerie, who finished sixth. “I’m massive in Egypt,” he joked. “I’m on all the billboards.”
Another three good rounds here and the former Georgia State player could really make a name for himself.