Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Ernst: Rising to the occasion against all odds

Published

on

It wasn’t a mastery of the slow and much maligned greens at Quail Hollow that propelled Derek Ernst to victory. Neither was it the assistance of Phil Mickelson, who leaked fuel as he headed through the Green Mile on Sunday. Mickelson left behind quite a bit of green over the stretch as he plummeted down the leaderboard.

The No. 1,207-ranked player in the world had only played in eight PGA Tour events before this week; clearly neither experience, nor comfort with the course, were critical to the rookie’s win.

Ernst was third in the field in greens in regulation for the week and 11th in strokes gained-putting. He was ninth in the field in scrambling, as well as 11th in driving distance. Statistically, then, Ernst was near the top of major categories. Statistical dominance, however, doesn’t adequately explain the win.

The precondition for Derek Ernst’s victory was the willingness of Tour golfers to withdraw from any tournament that doesn’t present them with the finely manicured conditions they’ve come to expect. Ernst, the fourth alternate for the Wells Fargo Championship, would only have seen the first tee box on television, were it not for the mass exodus of pros who took a look at the forecast, considered the greens and decided there were better ways to prepare for the Players Championship next week than by teeing it up at Quail Hollow.

It would be unfair and inaccurate, however, to characterize the victory of the 22-year-old and four-time All American at UNLV as the product of better golfers opting out of the field, thus opening up a spot and occluding the possibility of, say, Tiger Woods’ name on the leaderboard.

The real key to victory for Ernst was something we’re seeing more and more on Tour: The ability of young/rookie golfers to play like seasoned winners down the stretch, rather than wilting under the immense pressure of the final round of a Tour event.

We saw this last year with Charlie Beljan’s incredible performance at the Walt Disney Classic and, again, we saw the same thing with Russell Henley at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Ditto Michael Thompson and Billy Horschel.

In the cold rain on Sunday, staring down the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, Derek Ernst was able to play his game and rise to the occasion. At no point was this clearer than when the young golfer needed a birdie at the notoriously difficult closing hole. Ernst stepped up, calmly stuck a 6-iron approach shot to a few feet and made the putt.

It was this ability, refined thorough his mental game work with Susie Meyers no doubt, that was the critical element in Derek Ernst’s Wells Fargo Championship win.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Lee

    May 9, 2013 at 4:00 am

    This is what it’s all about in my opinion, young guys gets an unexpected start then hangs tough down the stretch. A great life changing performance from Derek may he go on and upwards. Good luck at the Players Derek what a story it would be if you can go back to back!

  2. Dane

    May 7, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Had the opportunity to watch Ernst play Corbin Mills for the Pub Links championship match out here. He lost in extra holes, very impressed the way he handled himself. Love to see him get his first win this way!

  3. ProGolfer

    May 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Great story. This is what made the “old” model of q-school so great– a guy can go from just out of college to playing, and winning, on the PGA Tour (Ernst got through every stage at q-school, including the pre-qual). Now, we will no longer see young guys bursting through and getting to the biggest stage. Guys like Michael Thompson and Charlie Beljan also went through the same route, and now they’re among the best in the world. No doubt the vast majority of fans would rather watch some young up-and-comer try to make it through q-school than watch a bunch of 30 and 40 year olds compete in the new playoff system.

  4. BBGolfer

    May 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Congrats to Derek!
    Great to see a young talent take on some big name players and WIN!
    His composure, maturity, and humility are much appreciated in contrast to many on tour.
    Refreshing to say the least – I;m definitely a fan of this young man.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Courses

Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy

Published

on

Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

Your Reaction?
  • 7
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

News

PGA Tour Pro and Parkland Alum Nick Thompson is Part of the Solution

Published

on

The tragic shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida moved the entire nation in a deep and profound way. The tragic events touched many lives, including PGA Tour Professional Nick Thompson, who attended Stoneman Douglas for four years and was born and raised just minutes from there.

On our 19th Hole podcast, Thompson described in detail just how connected he is to the area and to Douglas High School.

“That’s my alma mater. I graduated in ’01. My wife Christen and I graduated in ’01. I was born and raised in Parkland…actually Coral Springs, which is a neighboring city. Stoneman Douglas actually is just barely in Parkland but it’s pretty much right on the border. I would probably guess there are more kids from Coral Springs that go to Stoneman Douglas than in Parkland. So I spent 29 years in Coral Springs before moving to Palm Beach Gardens where I live now, but I was born and raised there. I spent four years of high school there and it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Thompson’s siblings, LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson and Web.com pro Curtis, did not attend Douglas High School.

His reaction to the news was immediate and visceral.

“I was in shock,” said Thompson. “I just really couldn’t believe it because Coral Springs and Parkland are both wonderful communities that are middle to upper class and literally, like boring suburbia. There’s not much going on in either city and it’s kind of hard to believe that it could happen there. It makes you think almost if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere. I think that’s one of the reasons why it has really gotten to a lot of people.”

Thompson knew personally some of the names that have become familiar to the nation as a result of the shooting, including Coach Aaron Feis, who died trying to save the lives of students.

“I went to high school with Aaron Feis,” said Thompson. “He was two years older than me, and I knew of him…we had a fair amount of mutual friends.”

And while the events have provoked much conversation on many sides, Thompson was moved to action.

“We started by my wife and I, the night that it happened, after we put our kids to bed, we decided that we needed to do something,” Thompson said. “The first thing we decided was we were going to do ribbons for the players, caddies, and wives. We did a double ribbon of maroon and silver, the school colors, pin them together and wrote MSD on the maroon section. We had the media official put them out on the first tee, so all the players were wearing them. It’s been great.”

“I got together with the media guys and Ken Kennerly, the tournament director of The Honda Classic and they have been amazing. The amount of players that had the ribbons on, I was just watching the coverage to see, is incredible. I actually spoke to Tiger today and thanked him for wearing the ribbon. We really appreciate it, told him I went to high school there. I mean the only thing he could say was that he was sorry, it’s an unfortunate scenario and he was happy to wear the ribbon, do whatever he could.”

Thompson is quick to note the help that he has received in his efforts.

“It’s not just me. My wife has been just as instrumental in getting this done as me. I just, fortunately, have the connection with the PGA Tour to move it in the right direction even faster. I have the luxury of having a larger platform that can get my words out and everything we’re trying to do faster than most people. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart so it was just literally perfect with The Honda Classic coming in town.”

Thompson has also been involved in fundraising that goes to help the survivors and victims’ families. GoFundMe accounts supported by Thompson and the PGA Tour have raised in excess of 2.1 million dollars in just a week.

“One of the most important uses for this money is counseling for victims, for these kids who witnessed this horrific event, or have one degree of separation,” Thompson said. “Counseling for kids who lost a friend or a classmate, who need counseling and to help them with their PTSD essentially. I think that’s one of the most important things is helping all these kids deal with what has happened.”

Thompson acknowledged the fact that the entire Parkland family is activated to help in the healing. As for his efforts, it’s the product of his recognition of just how fortunate his life has been and a heart for service.

“Golf has given so much to me that it was the perfect time to give back even more than I already have. It’s the best we can do. We’re just trying to make a difference. ”

Listen to the entire interview on a special edition of The 19th Hole with Michael Williams on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 12
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: What irons did Knudson finally get fit into?

Published

on

GolfWRX equipment expert Brian Knudson gets his first ever iron fitting. He dishes about his favorite irons, some irons that didn’t work for him, and he discusses the wide array of shafts that he tried. And then, he reveals what irons and shafts he got fit into. His irons of choice may surprise you.

Check out the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

jewkh

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB1
  • SHANK15

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending