Vol 24 October 2014

Mac Everett
General Chairman

Kym Hougham
Executive Director

Jan Ivey
Director of Marketing and Partner Relations

Tony Schuster
Director of Operations

Gwen Crow
Tournament Coordinator

Paula Burnett
Volunteer Coordinator

Christine Lockett
Tournament Project Manager

James Stevens
Tournament Assistant

2013 Tournament Recap

In only his ninth PGA TOUR start, Derek Ernst emerged late Sunday from a leaderboard full of proven winners to win his first career title at this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

In doing so, Ernst just 11 days shy of his 23rd birthday, became the third youngest winner of the tournament behind Rory McIlroy and Anthony Kim. Prior to winning, the Las Vegas native had earned just over $28,000 on TOUR and a year ago had accumulated five tournament victories while playing for UNLV. But on this Sunday, this rookie’s professional life would change as he earned $1.206 million and a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.

It would take a playoff for Ernst to get his hands on the trophy, though. Upon completion of play on a cold and rainy final round, Ernst and David Lynn had survived the conditions with 72-hole scores of 8-under-par 280. So, they both returned to the 18th hole and Lynn, a 39-year veteran and winner on the European Tour, opened the door for Ernst quickly when he drove his tee shot left near a hazard and needed four shots to reach the green. Ernst only needed to two-putt for par to claim victory.

Playoffs have been a common occurrence at the Wells Fargo Championship. This year’s one-hole playoff was the third consecutive and sixth overall in the tournaments 11-year history.

Ernst certainly took advantage of the opportunities offered. He started the week as the fourth alternate. After nine players withdrew, Ernst found himself in the field and cancelled plans to compete in a Web.com Tour event near Atlanta.

He opened the week with a 67 for a share of the lead with seven players that included 2010 champion Rory McIlroy. He followed with a 71-72 and birdied the 18th hole in regulation Sunday for a 70 to never lose sight of the leaders.

One of those leaders was Phil Mickelson. In fact, Sunday morning the top four names on the leaderboard were Mickelson, Lee Westwood, McIlroy and Nick Watney. Mickelson seemed to be the player who had the tournament in hand. After opening with 68-67, he held a two-stroke lead Friday evening. He slipped with a 73 Saturday and had a share of the lead with Nick Watney.

But by late Sunday morning, Mickelson, who has a record seven top 10 finishes at Quail Hollow Club, had a chance to go two strokes ahead at the par-five 15th hole. But he blasted a bunker shot 12 feet short and two-putted for par. He then proceeded to bogey the next two holes, missing a 5 foot putt at 16 and missing an 8-foot putt on 17 after three-putting from 65 feet. One stroke behind Ernst and Lynn heading to the final hole, Mickelson failed to make birdie to get into the playoff.

“I thought this was one I had in control,” he would say afterward. “There is just no excuse…I felt like I was in control and I let it slip away. I am totally bummed.”

Westwood, who would finish tied for fourth, had his chances, too. He was tied for the lead until he hit driver left into the trees on the 12th hole and bogeyed the next two holes. McIlroy was only one back until the same hole bit him and a double-bogey dropped him to an eventual 10th place finish.

That left Ernst and Lynn, two players who hovered around the top spot all week and took advantage. In the end it was Ernst who survived.

“This is unbelievable,” Ernst would repeat many times after earning the win. Asked when he first thought about winning, he replied, “Never.”