Winners and Losers from PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow
OK, everyone, it's time for a little honesty.
Raise your hand if you had never heard of Derek Ernst before this weekend.
Just what we thought. Nearly everyone in golf class is raising their hands.
Ernst is a 22-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. He got the call of a lifetime this week, telling him he was the fourth alternate for the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.
That seemingly insignificant phone call turned out to be momentous as poor weather and poor course conditions caused a number of players to drop out.
Ernst got his opportunity and made the most of it, winning Wells Fargo in a playoff.
Ernst will not be the unknown man on the tour throughout the rest of the year.
Winner: Derek Ernst
It's hard to have a better week than Ernst had at the Wells Fargo Championship.
He had four solid rounds under very difficult conditions and shot an 8-under-par 280 to tie David Lynn for the lead at the end of 72 holes.
That put Ernst in a playoff, and it would have been easy for him to succumb to the pressure and accept a second-place finish. However, Ernst was cool all week and he was cool in the playoff. He beat Lynn and earned his first PGA Tour win.
In addition to picking up more than $1.2 million in prize money, Ernst now has a two-year exemption on the tour and that makes life much easier for a young player who is trying to establish his name.
Ernst is now eligible to play in the Players Championship next week, an event he was hoping to compete in, but he had no assurances of an invitation until he picked up his victory at Wells Fargo.
Ernst hit 75 percent of his greens in regulation, and that's a big reason why he was able to come away with the victory.
Loser: Phil Mickelson
The playing conditions were raw and miserable at Quail Hollow in the final round, and Phil Mickelson looked like he wanted to be any place besides the golf course.
Mickelson had been superb in the first two rounds as he shot a 68 and 67. He appeared on be on his way to dominating the tournament.
However, Mickelson lost his edge on Saturday and Sunday and shot back-to-back scores of 73.
That was enough for him to lose the tournament. He finished one stroke back of Ernst and Lynn and missed being in the playoff.
Mickelson had a one-stroke lead with three holes to play, but he could not hold the lead. "I'm pretty bummed out," Mickelson told PGATour.com. "I thought that this was one I had in control."
Mickelson finished third and really had a fine tournament, but when you throw away what appeared to be an easy chance to win, it's not an acceptable finish for one of the best players in the world.
The weather may have been unfriendly, but it didn't stop the two playoff participants. It did slow down Mickelson and that's notable.
Winner: David Lynn
David Lynn played gutsy golf in the Wells Fargo Championship.
He competed consistently for four rounds and pushed Derek Ernst into a playoff before eventually settling for second place.
Lynn didn't shoot higher than 71 in any of his rounds and he was particularly effective on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes at Quail Hollow—known as the Green Mile. He played those holes at four under par and did not have one bogey on those holes in regulation.
However, the 18th proved costly for Lynn in the playoff as he hit a poor tee shot and saw Ernst hit his second shot within birdie range. That led to a slew of mistakes and he was left with a bogey putt. He never had to take that shot because Ernst secured the victory by making his own putt.
Lynn earned slightly more than $723,000 with his second-place finish. He averaged 1.707 putts per hole, ranking second in the tournament.
Loser: Rory McIlroy
Come on, Rory, it's time to step up and play like one of the best golfers in the world.
Rory McIlroy was the dominant player in the world last year and he held the top ranking until Tiger Woods took it away from him earlier this year.
McIlroy certainly appears to be a championship player who may be better equipped to compete with Woods more than any other player on tour.
However, he has not been able to find his swagger—or his game—this season.
It was more of the same at the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy played well in fits and starts but he was not able to find his complete game. He shot a four-under par 284 and tied for 10th.
McIlroy shot an impressive 67 in the opening round, but he was not able to play consistently after that. He close with a 73 on moving day and shot another 73 in the final round.
Mcilroy was bombing his driver and he averaged 291.8 yards with it during the tournament, a figure that ranked fifth. However, he was inconsistent around the greens and with his putter and that['s not the McIlroy that golf fans want to see.
Winner: Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood is one of the best golfers in the world, but he has not been on his game this year. It didn't seem likely that he would find his game at Quail Hollow since the weather and the playing conditions were both nasty.
However, Westwood played four good rounds and finished the tournament at six-under-par and he tied Robert Karlsson for fourth place. When the weather conditions were at their worst on Saturday and Sunday, he shot back-to-back rounds of 72 to remain in contention.
Westwood earned $294,800 for his efforts. One of the reasons he was so effective was his ability to keep his drives in the fairway. He hit 62.5 percent of the fairways in regulation and that tied him for fourth in the tournament.
Loser: Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler had a chance to get his game back on track at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Fowler was the event's defending champion, but he never looked like he had a chance to repeat last year's success.
Fowler shot 72 in the first and second rounds, and that was good enough for him to make the cut. However, when he shot a 77 in the third round, he was one of 11 players who did not survive the second cut.
Fowler went home after Saturday's round, left to contemplate what has happened to his game and why he has so many poor holes on a nearly every week basis.
Winner: Kyle Stanley
Kyle Stanley finished in a four-way tie for sixth place at the Wells Fargo Championship with a five-under-par score of 283.
Stanley's play was significant because he was at his best when the conditions were worst in the final round of the tournament. He shot a 68 on the final day to climb within three strokes of the leaders.
Stanley earned $216,925 for his performance. Stanley did a superb job of putting, averaging 1.75 putts per hole throughout the tournament. That placed him in a tie for seventh in that category.
If Stanley can shoot a 68 in wind and rain on the final day of the tournament, he should be in good shape to contend in upcoming tournaments.