This past weekend, the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte saw a relative unknown birdie the waterlogged 18th hole in a playoff at Quail Hollow for his first PGA Tour victory. This win comes a mere six days after the rookie found out that he had qualified for the event as the fourth alternate. Derek Ernst, 22, and playing in only his ninth tour event, edged out household names such as Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and finally David Lynn in the playoff for the win.
The victory comes as an extreme reversal of fortune for Ernst, who was...
...barely making ends meet in his professional career and his personal life. In fact, to make it to Charlotte from Athens, GA where he was scheduled to play a less-illustrious tour event the same weekend, Ernst swapped out rental cars to avoid a $1000 surcharge for returning the car in different location.
With the win, however, Ernst collects a purse of over $1.2 million and gains immediate qualification for a slew of major Tour events, including next week’s Players Championship, the PGA Championship, and next year’s Masters Tournament.
This is a fine victory for a deserving young man who played to his full potential, but hardly a game changer in the current climate of the PGA. The weather conditions in which the event was played was deplorable for Charlotte in May, with the worst of it coming on Sunday’s final day. The advance forecasts caused many golfers to drop out of the event (which made Ernst’s victory a possibility by allowing him to play), and the persistent rain and wind kept many others from their A-game.
Though the victory helps serve the theories that Golf is experiencing increased parity among the ranks without the dominance of superpowers like a Tiger Woods in his prime, Ernst owes this victory to the circumstances surrounding the event as much as his quality of play.
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