For the second straight week, a young PING pro won his first PGA Tour event – and the coveted perks that come with victory. On Sunday it was 22-year-old rookie Derek Ernst capturing the Wells Fargo Championship in his eighth start as a PGA Tour member. While Billy Horschel won with a birdie on the 72nd hole the previous week, Ernst birdied the final hole to finish at 8-under and earn a spot in a two-man playoff, which he won with a par on the first extra hole at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. Among the latest PING technology in his bag was a Scottsdale TR Grayhawk putter, which he added last week in New Orleans, and Tour Gorge wedges.
The win comes with a two-year exemption, plus invitations to his first Masters, next week’s Players Championship, the PGA, and two World Golf Championships. What made the victory sweeter was Ernst almost didn’t get into the event. Beginning the week, he was the fourth alternate. “This feeling is unbelievable right now,” he said.
He won in impressive fashion. In a cold rain on the 18th hole in regulation, Ernst hit his 192-yard approach to 4 feet, then sunk the birdie putt. It was one of only four birdies on 18 all day. Playing the same hole in the playoff, he hit a 3-iron approach to 15 feet, lipped out his birdie putt, but made par for the victory.
He was paired with Lee Westwood, who finished T4, his fourth top 10 in nine PGA Tour starts this season. Ernst pocketed more than $1.2 million on rounds of 67-71-72-70. In addition to the Tour wedges and Scottsdale TR Grayhawk putter, he played an i20 driver, i15 3-wood, Anser hybrid, and S56 irons.