Death shocks golfer's family

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Former Nike Tour winner Stiles Mitchell returned to his hometown of Waynesboro, Ga., six weeks ago to seek help for a chronic back problem that kept him away from competitive golf for more than two years.

Pro golfer Stiles Mitchell was found dead on Saturday. Back problems had hampered the career of the Waynesboro, Ga., native, seen here in 1995.  File
File
Pro golfer Stiles Mitchell was found dead on Saturday. Back problems had hampered the career of the Waynesboro, Ga., native, seen here in 1995.

"He was here to get himself straightened out so he could get back to playing golf again," Tommy Mitchell said of his younger brother.

The man nicknamed Big Daddy because of his prodigious drives and outgoing personality won't get that chance.

Stiles Mitchell, 42, was found dead in his bed at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday by his mother, Jane, according to Tommy Mitchell. Stiles had been staying with his mother in a house behind Tommy Mitchell's house in Waynesboro.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. today at Waynesboro's First United Methodist Church. Mitchell will be cremated.

An autopsy will be performed because of Mitchell's age. Tommy Mitchell was told it could take two months for the results, but he believes the cause of death was a heart attack.

"That's all I can figure; that his heart gave out on him," Mitchell said. "He'd let his health get away from him because he couldn't exercise because of his back."

Mitchell said his brother, who was 6-foot-3, had put on weight recently and was about 275 pounds at the time of his death.

Once his back was better, Mitchell Stiles had planned to return to Baton Rouge, La., to continue working as vice president for sales at a construction company and try tournament golf again.

The sudden death stunned those who knew him. Waynesboro's Wade Marchman played golf with Stiles Mitchell on Friday at Waynesboro Country Club. Mitchell quit after nine holes.

"He wasn't feeling well," Marchman said. "But it came as a shock to me that he died that night. I knew he was in bad health but I figured he would be in the pro shop the next morning telling jokes."

Marchman said Mitchell was in so much pain from his back and swollen ankles that he "couldn't have walked 18 holes. He could hardly move. He could hardly get out of the cart to get to the green."

Mitchell was a natural talent who briefly attended Georgia Southern University. He went on to play various pro golf tours, winning on the Hooters Tour in 1997 and the Nike (now Nationwide) Tour in 1998. He played in a number of PGA Tour events by making fields through Monday qualifying -- playing twice in 2006.

"He's the best that ever came out of (Waynesboro)," Marchman said.

Tommy Mitchell said his brother was listed as the driving distance leader of all the pro tours in the country in the late 1990s.

"He was an extremely long hitter," Marchman said. "He excelled even though he never went through the junior tournament ranks. All of a sudden, he's on tour."

Martinez amateur Mike Jackson remembers playing with Mitchell in his prime at Augusta Municipal Golf Course.

"He drove the greens on Nos. 8 and 9, which are par-4s," Jackson recalled. "I told him, 'Stiles, this is the last time I ever play golf with you.' ... He hit the ball so far."

Jackson recalled Mitchell as "always being jovial."

"He was a very good friend of mine and I'll miss him," Marchman said. "There was only one Big Daddy, I'll tell you that."

Tommy Mitchell said he's received calls from all over the country and that there has been an outpouring of support.

"People here are really sad that Stiles is no longer with us," he said.

Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (13) Add comment
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justputtin
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justputtin 07/21/08 - 06:25 am
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You will be missed big guy.

You will be missed big guy. Rest in peace.

BakersfieldCityLimits
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BakersfieldCityLimits 07/21/08 - 08:56 am
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I met Mr. Mitchell once at

I met Mr. Mitchell once at the Waysboro Dairy Queen, he was a nice man. Prayers for his family.

msapp
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msapp 07/21/08 - 09:54 am
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How sad. Stiles was really a

How sad. Stiles was really a nice guy!

Son of God
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Son of God 07/21/08 - 12:17 pm
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Surely, Surely, Surely, "To

Surely, Surely, Surely, "To be ABSENT from THE BODY is TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD." Stiles no longer have to walk the world's golf courses. STILES NOW IS IN POSITION TO WALK WHERE THE STREETS ARE PAVED WITH GOLD,(HEAVEN).He will say to all of us today, Earth has no sorrow that HEAVEN cannot heal. May God STRENGTHEN the family and we send such UNCONDITIONAL AGARE' LOVE to HIS DEAR AND PRECIOUS MOTHER WHO WAS THE FIRST TO WITNESS HIS HOMEGOING TO BE WITH THE LORD. Your prayers will continue to be heard and your son has passed from JOY TO GLORIOUS AND EVERLASTING JOY! He had joy, compassion, love peace, happiness, success, etc. in this world but it is not anything compared to the EVERLASTING LIFE (THE JOY OF THE LORD) that STILES has now. Meditate on John 14, Romans 10:9,10, Psalm 121, 11 Chronicles 7:14, Ephesians 3:20, Revelation 21:7,8 Deuteronomy 32:39, Ephesians 6:10-16, Romans 8:28
We will keep ALL of the family and friends in our prayers. Continue to be witnesses for Christ and be strong for one another ALWAYS WALKING IN LOVE. God is LOVE. God has given STILES ETERNAL REST AND HIS NAME IS WRITTEN IN THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE. HE HAS PASSED FROM JOY TO THE GREATEST JOY OF ALL

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 07/21/08 - 12:31 pm
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son of god....very beautiful,

son of god....very beautiful, and truthful....may the good lord bless the fanily and friends....

reneeshawcribb
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reneeshawcribb 07/21/08 - 12:45 pm
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Stiles and I went to school

Stiles and I went to school together and it was such a shock to here of his death. Stiles was always a good friend to me in school. He always had a way of making you smile and laugh. I can't remember him ever being in a bad mood. I was so proud for Stiles and his family when he went on tour. Stiles was a great person and represnted Waynesboro well. He will be greatly missed. Ms. Jane, Tommy, Francis Ann and family you will be in our prayers. May God be with you all.

apex24
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apex24 07/21/08 - 12:47 pm
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Stiles, we love you and will

Stiles, we love you and will miss you very much!!

king hi falutin
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king hi falutin 07/21/08 - 03:04 pm
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I played a lot of golf with

I played a lot of golf with Stiles. I thought I was a long hitter until I met him. I believe his heart gave out on him, too. RIP Big Daddy.

AugustaHeph homeowner
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AugustaHeph homeowner 07/22/08 - 06:43 am
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I never had the chance to

I never had the chance to meet this young man, but from listening to all of you-He was a good person and so friendly.
To his mom (I have also lost a son at an early age, just after Graduation) My Heart goes out to you. Through the Good Lord having his eyes on me and my eyes always on him - I have made it and talk with others about losing a child because there is no pain like you are going through at this time. God Bless you and your family, Tommy you have done such an honour for your brother in this article. God gave him a talent and he used it until he used it up. What an awesome job. Some people never use their talents that God gives them and he did. Always be proud and take care of your mom. It will be a hard year but I know you all have the LORD with you.
Son of God, That was a Special message you give this family. Excellent speaker you are. Thanks for people like you in this world. WE need more.

pabgolf
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pabgolf 07/22/08 - 03:21 pm
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Big Daddy, Know that your

Big Daddy,

Know that your drives will fly straighter than ever now and even longer, and you will sink all your putts. May God rest your soul and provide for those you left behind.

I will miss you Big Daddy.

Page

my2sense
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my2sense 07/22/08 - 04:28 pm
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My sympathy and prayers go

My sympathy and prayers go out to the family. Rest In Peace, Big Daddy.

augusta4real_yall
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augusta4real_yall 07/22/08 - 10:07 pm
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I am very sorry to hear of

I am very sorry to hear of your loss. God bless Stiles' family and friends.

CSRAider
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CSRAider 07/23/08 - 07:14 am
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party on!

party on!

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