CHARLOTTE, N.C. – One phone call changed his plans. One shot changed a whole lot more for Derek Ernst.
Six days after Ernst received a call that he was in the Wells Fargo Championship as the fourth alternate, the 22-year-old rookie found himself one shot out of the lead and 192 yards away from the flag on the 18th hole, the toughest at Quail Hollow in the cold, wind and rain of a grueling final round.
Ernst choked up on a 6-iron and hit a draw that landed 4 feet from the hole for one of only four birdies on the closing hole Sunday.
“I was trying to hit it as close as I possibly could,” he said.
The birdie gave him a 2-under 70 and tied him with David Lynn of England, who also had a 70. And it turned out to be no fluke. Returning to the 18th in the playoff, as the rain started coming out harder, Ernst hit a 3-iron to about 15 feet left of the flag that set up his stunning victory.
Phil Mickelson didn’t get a chance to join them. He had a one-shot lead with three holes to play until making back-to-back bogeys, missing putts of 6 feet and 10 feet. His 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th narrowly missed, and Mickelson closed with a 73.
“I felt like I was in control, and I let it slip away there the last few holes, so it was disappointing,” Mickelson said.
So ended a strange week at Quail Hollow. The greens were shockingly bad because of weather and agronomical issues, which led to several players dropping out. The sun never really came out all week, and the wind chill Sunday morning made it hard to believe it was the first weekend in May. It felt like February at Pebble Beach.
Kerr wins again at Kingsmill: Cristie Kerr made a short par putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Suzann Pettersen to win the Kingsmill Championship for the third time.
The victory was the 16th of Kerr’s career, and her third in five career playoffs.
Kerr shot a 2-under 69, and Pettersen had a 67 to finish at 12-under 272 on the River Course in Williamsburg, Va.
Kerr nearly won on the first extra hole. Her approach to No. 18 stopped about 6 feet away, while Pettersen’s approach came up short of the green. But Pettersen chipped close, and Kerr’s putt slid past.
On the second hole, Pettersen’s approach went over the green, and her chip came up well short. Kerr was nearly pin high in two and two-putted for the victory.
A first for Toledo, Mexico: Esteban Toledo celebrated Cinco de Mayo by becoming the first Mexican winner in Champions Tour history, beating Mike Goodes with a par on the third hole of a playoff in the Insperity Championship.
The 50-year-old Toledo, making his ninth start on the 50-and-over tour, eagled the opening hole and finished with a 5-under 67 to match Goodes and Gene Sauers at 6-under 210 at The Woodlands Country Club.