On a waterlogged day at Quail Hollow, rookie Derek Ernst defeated David Lynn with a par on the first playoff hole to earn his maiden PGA Tour victory. Here’s the skinny on the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship:
What it means: It’s a breakthrough victory for Ernst, a former UNLV star who advanced through all four stages of Q-School and turns 23 later this month. The fourth alternate this week in Charlotte, he only got into the field when several players withdrew prior to the opening round because of the patchy greens at Quail Hollow. He was ranked 1,207th in the world rankings entering this week. Nonetheless, Ernst capped a final-round 70 with a short birdie on 18 to reach the playoff, and his two-putt par on the first extra hole was enough to defeat Lynn (70). That said, it’s a crushing disappointment for Mickelson, who was staked to a one-shot lead entering the Green Mile but bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 in torrential rain to fall one shot shy of the playoff.
Round of the day: Even with the playoff loss (bogey on the first extra hole), it still was an encouraging week for Lynn, a 39-year-old Englishman who wasn’t even sure if he would take up Tour membership this season. It turned out to be the correct choice, as Lynn notched his second top 10 of the season, and first since the Honda Classic in early March.
Best of the rest: Kyle Stanley (T-6) and Luke List (T-16) both closed with 68 – the low round of the day – to significantly improve their positions on the final day. After struggling mightily to start the season, Stanley has now posted back-to-back top-10 finishes on Tour. Stanley, List and Scott Brown were the only players to break 70 Sunday.
Biggest disappointment: The aforementioned Mickelson leads the pack, of course, after he was unable to make his 20-foot birdie bid on 18. But what about the other big names? Two back to start the day, Lee Westwood made three bogeys over the last seven holes and finished two shots back. Rory McIlroy was one off the lead when he made the turn in 34, but played Nos. 12 and 13 in 3 over par to settle for a 73-73 weekend. Charles Howell III was one off the lead when he closed bogey-double bogey to finish four shots back.