TOUR Rookie Derek Ernst made it back-to-back weeks for first-time winners on TOUR after defeating Englishman David Lynn in a playoff Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. Phil Mickelson, the co-54-hole leader missed the playoff by one shot to finish alone in third.
Ernst fired a bogye-free 33 on the back nine Sunday which included a birdie on the 72nd hole to take the clubhouse lead at eight-under-par 280 with Lynn. The pair waited and watched as Phil Mickelson bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 and failed to make birdie on No. 18 to join them in the playoff. In the playoff, Ernst found the fairway, green and almost a birdie, but his tap in par was plenty for his first career win.
Hello, Derek Ernst! After beginning the week as the eighth alternate, the 22-year-old rookie from UNLV finishes the week on top of the PGA Tour world and has booked himself a ticket to THE PLAYERS next week. He surpasses Russell Henley (23) as the youngest winner on TOUR this season. Gamers will feel hard done by this week as he outlasted Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Nick Watney and Rory McIlroy to win his first professional tournament in his tenth attempt. Ernst graduated last May from UNLV and played one tournament last year, Frys.com. He opened with 65 at CordaValle and finished T41. The biggest tournament of his life before this one was T17 at last year’s Q School to clinch his card for 2013. He won the Mountain West Conference Championship and four other tournaments while in college.
So why haven’t you heard of Derek Ernst? Simple, since winning his card he’s played seven events on TOUR before this week and has won $28,255. He’s in the top 50 in total putting (50th) and strokes gained-putting (48th) and he used those numbers to ram in a birdie on the final hole to work his way into a playoff. He played The Green Mile two-under for the week. Young kids just don’t seem to mind about too much at Quail Hollow as Ersnt joins other young winners here like Sean O’Hair, Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.
With this victory, Ernst collects $1,206,000 and 500 FedExCup points. He is also eligible to play in next week’s PLAYERS, receives a two-year exemption on TOUR, an invitation to the 2014 Masters, 2013 PGA Championship and 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Not bad for your 10th start on TOUR! Your life is now changed!
Déjà vu All Over Again?
There have been 19 tournaments this season. The USA posted winners in the first 14 before Laird, Scott and GMAC rattled off three straight. The Stars and Stripes have now won two in a row thanks to youngsters Billy Horschel last week and Derek Ernst this week.
In 2013 10 of the 18 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) have gone on to victory. This is the SIXTH week in a row where the 54-hole leader(s) have not held up their end of the bargain as Phil Mickelson faded to third and Nick Watney leaked to T10.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods THRICE (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26) and Ernst (22). The young folks (30 and younger) now have eight victories; the 30-somethings have nine victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. This week’s “great hope” for the Old folks was 54-hole leader Mickelson.
Derek Ernst and David Lynn participated in the sixth playoff in 11 events at the Wells Fargo Championship, including the third year in a row.
Ernst also joins Rickie Fowler (2012) and Anthony Kim (2008) who posted their first career TOUR win at Quail Hollow.
David Lynn: So much for bad greens and tough finishes as Lynn made exactly ONE bogey on the back nine in four rounds this week to finish P2. After being cut the last two weeks, the Englishman found his putter and short game before losing in the playoff to young Ernst. Lynn proved the theory that length is not always the deciding factor, even when courses are wet. His touch around the greens was the determining factor just like they were in his second place finish at the PGA last summer. He’s now hit the top four twice in 2013 as he was second at The Honda Classic in early March. His other best finish of the season was 14th at Valero. I’ve learned that he plays difficult tracks extremely well. I have written this down.
Phil Mickelson: So much for “saving him for later” in the fantasy world…The co-54-hole leader played his final 22 holes four-over. His bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 on Sunday kept him out of the playoff. He putted fantastically well on poor greens but it was a couple of wayward irons and short putts that did him in down the stretch. If he was in your lineup, he hit the podium and that’s all you can really hope for anymore. This was his best finish since T3 at Doral and he once again proved that he must be in your lineup at Quail Hollow, no matter how many starts you have left, Glass…
Lee Westwood: After his T5 last year he should have been an automatic pick in group C in Yahoo!, right Glass? Shut up. His T4 this year in his third consecutive top 10 of this season (T10 at SHO; T8 Masters) so his game is rounding into shape for THE PLAYERS next week. It’s a ball-strikers course and Westwood is striking it quite well right now. Westwood still drives gamers crazy because he began the day just two shots back but couldn’t bust out a W but a nice, chalk-i-licious week nonetheless.
Robert Karlsson: If you would have told me that the Quail Hollow member with the highest finish this week would have been Karlsson over Simpson and Johnson Wagner, I would have said no chance. In six events this year, he’s made two cuts and his best finish is T30 in Puerto Rico. He had, before this week, made just about $2,500 more than Ernst.
Kyle Stanley: Back-to-back top 10s for Stanley with his T6 this week backing up his solo third in New Orleans. His ball-striking again allowed him to rip off a pair of 68s on Friday and Sunday to put him firmly inside the top 10. It’s good to see him regaining the form he flashed early in 2012. He’ll be an interesting prospect next week at TPC Sawgrass as there’s no question that he’s heating up.
Bo Van Pelt: After racking up 10 top 10s in 24 events in 2012, Van Pelt returns to the wrap up column for the first time in 2013. He must have heard that I referred to Jimmy Walker as the 2013 Bo Van Pelt! His double on No. 10 today prevented him from climbing higher into the top 10 but he’ll take it as his previous best finish of 2013 was T16 in Phoenix in early February. What’s been the issue? In 2012, he was 11th in strokes gained-putting. This year he’s 163rd. Welcome back, BVP!
Kevin Streelman: If you haven’t figured out that he’s in the middle of something special yet, I’m not sure how I can convince you. He only made seven bogeys and a double in less-than-ideal scoring conditions. In his last five tournaments he’s been T6, T3, MC, T21 and victorious. That’s WAY hot.
Ryan Moore: He only made four bogeys and one double in his first 54 holes to find himself just two shots off the lead on Sunday. After sharing the lead at eight-under, he bogeyed all three holes of The Green Mile to finish T6. This was also his first top 10 since Phoenix and second in 10 events this season. Let’s see if this jump-starts Moore’s spring.
Ross Fisher: After being cut in five of his last six events, I had no reason to look at him this week. He didn’t break 70 once this week but played steady enough to hit the top 10. He’s played this tournament three times and has seen the weekend in all three. He’s eighth on TOUR in ball-striking and it showed this week. THIS week.
Charles Howell III: He backs up his solo eighth last year with T10 as he hits the top 10 for the second time in four events. The other two events he was MC. He now has five top 10s in 13 events this season. Maybe he should have been this year’s Bo Van Pelt!
Vaughn Taylor: After qualifying on Monday, Taylor rode 11 back nine birdies over the four rounds to hit the top 10 here for the first time since 2006 and his third top 10 here in nine tries. He had also been cut five of his last six times here. On TOUR this year, he is all or nothing as entering this week he had three MCs and T25, T14 and T21 as his finishes. But, this was his first top 10 since his T5 at the 2010 Barclays.
Rory McIlroy: To putt inside of 10 feet as poorly as he did and STILL hit the top 10 shows how special of a talent that this kid really is. If he would have made all of his putts inside six feet, he would have been 11-under on the back nine on Sunday. The short putts and the back nine were his downfall this week. He fired 38-37-39 on the back on the final three days of the week to eliminate any momentum he created earlier in the round. Top 10s are usually great for gamers but they’re can be a little salty when a player of this caliber is only three shots off the lead heading into Sunday and doesn’t make up any ground.
Brian Harman: He finds his way into the top 10 for the first time in 15 events in 2013. It is his first top 10 since the 2012 Barclays where he finished T5. In his previous five events Harman missed three cuts and finished T59 and T22 so he wasn’t in my train of thoughts this week. He will be next year as he’s played six of eight rounds at par or better in his only two stops here.
Nick Watney: The co-54-hole leader played his last 20 holes in six-over to go from 10-under and the outright lead on Saturday to no birdies and T10 on Sunday night. He’s now made eight cuts on the bounce and the last three weeks he’s been T10, T15 and T13 so it’s obviously it’s close. It’s a shame that he missed three putts under six feet for birdie today as that would have helped him create some positive momentum but he was one of two players, according to @A340Spotter, who did not record a birdie on Sunday. Ouch.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Webb Simpson: The Quail Hollow member shot a bogey-free 70 on Thursday but that was the high point for the week en route to T32. He played The Green Mile in six-over the final three days.
Sergio Garcia: The highlight of his week was his chip-in from five feet ON THE GREEN with a 52-degree wedge because he couldn’t putt over a huge spike mark. Oh dear. Five bogeys and four birdies on the weekend saw him finish T16. He’s now made six of seven cuts here and they are all T38 or better.
D.A. Points: His T16 this week makes it five straight on TOUR which includes a win in Houston and second last week in New Orleans.
Jimmy Walker: His T22 is just another ho-hum week and another top 25, his seventh in 12 events.
Rickie Fowler: The 2012 champ made three birdies and three bogeys on Thursday. He made two birdies and two bogeys on Friday. Saturday saw his six bogeys and one birdie fall short and he was a victim of MDF. This fell short of gamer’s expectations…
Bill Haas: His 41-38 on Thursday included a NINE. Needless to say he didn’t make the weekend but his two-under 70 on Friday shows he wasn’t mentally toast. My fantasy team was though because I went with Haas instead of Mickelson.
Lucas Glover: Baby or no baby? That was the question. If you rode Glover this week he finished T27 after 73-75 on the weekend wiped out his 68-71 start. His wife did not have their baby yet. It’s due May 15.
Bubba Watson: He remarked on Twitter that he’s been fighting his golf swing the last few tournaments and that he needs to stop playing scared. I love hearing that on Thursday night instead of Wednesday morning! #fantasygolfishard.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the field at THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget that you can follow Rob (https://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (https://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter!