CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A week like no other at Quail Hollow held one final surprise Sunday when 22-year-old rookie Derek Ernst birdied the 18th hole to force a playoff, and then won the Wells Fargo Championship on the first extra hole against David Lynn of England.
Ernst was playing only his ninth PGA Tour event. He was the fourth alternate at the start of the week. He was No. 1,207 in the world ranking. None of that mattered when he choked up on a 6-iron from 192 yards and drilled his shot into 4 feet. He made one of only four birdies on the 18th in the final round, and this was the most important. It gave him a 2-under 70 and put him in a playoff with Lynn, who also shot 70.
The shot was no fluke. On the 18th hole in the playoff, as the cold rain started coming down harder, Ernst hit a 3-iron left of the flag to 15 feet. Lynn went from the bank of a creek to the bunker to the rough behind the green, and Ernst was able to win with a par.
Phil Mickelson, who had a one-shot lead with three holes to play, made bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes, and he narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have allowed him to join the playoff. He had a 73 and finished third.
Ernst won just over $1.2 million and most important to him was the two-year exemption that comes with winning. The victory also gets him into The Players Championship next week. He qualifies for two World Golf Championships, the PGA Championship, the Tournament of Champions next year at Kapalua and the Masters.
Kerr wins again at Kingsmill in playoff
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — 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. She also won at the River Course in 2005 and 2009.
Kerr shot a 2-under 69, and Pettersen had a 67 to finish at 12-under 272 on the River Course.
On the second hole, Pettersen hit her approach just off the back of the green, and Kerr’s stopped nearly hole high about 15 feet away. After Pettersen mis-hit her chip, leaving it well short, Kerr rolled her putt to 18 inches, forcing Pettersen to make hers, and her try missed badly.
Pettersen, the 2007 winner in a playoff with Jee Young Lee, won in a playoff two weeks ago in Hawaii.
Ariya Jutanugarn, the 17-year-old Thai player who led after the first two rounds, made five birdies on the back nine in a 66 to surge into a tie for third with Ilhee Lee.
Toledo makes history on Cinco de Mayo
THE WOODLANDS, Texas — 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.
Goodes shot a 72, and Sauers – eliminated on the second playoff hole – had a 74.
Toledo, seven strokes behind Sauers entering the round, earned $270,000 for his second victory in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
Rumford takes China Open crown with 68
TIANJIN, China — Brett Rumford won the China Open by four strokes to become the first Australian in 41 years to win consecutive European Tour titles.
The Ballantine’s Championship winner last week in South Korea, Rumford shot a 4-under 68 to finish at 16-under 272 at Binhai Lakes. Australians Jack Newton and Graham Marsh also won consecutive events in 1972, the first year of the tour. Finland’s Mikko Ilonen was second after a 71.