AVONDALE, La. – Next week is the three-year anniversary of Derek Ernst’s stunning victory at Quail Hollow.
It’s been a lean few years.
Ernst, who was the fourth alternate that week when he won as a 22-year-old rookie, has only four top-25s and 46 missed cuts since that playoff win at the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship.
After graduating from the Web.com Tour Finals last fall, he’s banked just $72,575 in 10 events this season. Because of his priority ranking, he has made only three starts since late January.
“It was almost like I had an offseason,” he said.
Ernst shot a 5-under 67 Thursday at the Zurich Classic to sit just three shots off the early lead when play was suspended because of darkness.
With more time at home, Ernst said he and his wife have been preparing for the arrival for their first child, a girl, due in July.
“I’ve learned,” he said. “It’s not frustrating if you’re learning. I’ve got a free ride. I won a golf tournament. Instead of being in mini-tour stuff, I’m on the PGA Tour. I haven’t played any other Tour than the PGA Tour. I’ve gotten a free ticket to learn from all the best guys in the world.”