Grading the Wells Fargo Championship

Derek Ernst defeated some big names for his first PGA Tour win. (Getty Images)
Derek Ernst defeated some big names for his first PGA Tour win. (Getty Images)
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A promising weekend with tons of star power at the top of the leaderboard turned anonymous in a hurry as David Lynn (No. 64 in the world) and Derek Ernst (No. 1,207 in the world) faced off in a playoff because Phil Mickelson bogeyed two of his last three holes to lose the tournament.

It wasn't 2006 U.S. Open bad ("I am so stupid") but Mickelson blew a tournament he had around the throat for most of the weekend. He shared the lead with, at times all weekend, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. They all faltered late which led to this:

Ernst won with a par on the first playoff hole (No. 18) -- a hole he birdied earlier in his round (he was one of only four golfers to birdie the hole on Sunday).

Here's what he told Steph Wei after the tournament about his birdie on No. 18 to get in the playoff:

"Winning wasn't on my mind on No. 18 in regulation."

Ernst came into the tournament ranked No. 1,207 in the world and was the 4th (!) alternate on Monday. In fact, according to Golf Channel he almost didn't show up at all as he was slated to play the tournament this week.

His season on the PGA Tour thus far had gone like this: T59, CUT, CUT, CUT, CUT, CUT, T47. He finished T41 at the Open last year. This was his ninth PGA Tour tournament ever.

Here's what Ernst told the Charlotte Observer earlier this week about why he's struggled this year:

“I started thinking about everything. Like, wow, there is Tiger [Woods] and all these guys. I think I just tried to be someone that I wasn’t.”


He's the 22-year-old is a PGA Tour champion and will play the Masters next year. Good decision to come to Charlotte.

He's excited about his newfound success, too:

Here are our grades for the Wells Fargo Championship:

A Derek Ernst will go from No. 1,207 in the world to around No. 125. Had 28 FedEx Cup points coming in, leaves with 528 which will put him around 30th..
A Lee Westwood has struggled so far this year (54th in FedEx Cup points) so it was good for him to finish T4. He flirted with the lead all weekend but never could seize it. Could be a springboard as we head to the two Opens.

With PGA Tour career win No. 41 on the line, Phil Mickelson couldn't find the bottom of the cup. Through three rounds he was 47-49 from within 10 feet with 32 one-putts but missed putts for par on No. 16 and No. 17 on Sunday to miss the playoff by one stroke.

C Birthday boy Rory McIlroy gets an "A" for his first two days and a "D" for a weekend in which he started just a few shots back and closed with a 73-73. Still, his play the last few non-Masters tournaments has been encouraging.
D Rickie Fowler did not succeed, or approach any reasonable form of success, in his title defense at the Wells Fargo Championship. Fowler made the weekend but missed the second cut on Sunday with a third-round 77. Didn't get it done at Quail Hollow.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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