It was another week marred by inclement Sunday weather, but for the third time in four tournaments, the PGA Tour needed extra holes to determine a winner. After a playoff on No. 18, Derek Ernst, who started the week as a fourth alternate, ranked 1,207 in the world, edged out David Lynn for his first career victory.
Ernst, a rookie on Tour, needed a hot back nine in order to get into the mix. It was a Sunday that started early, with rain pelting the already damp layout at Quail Hollow, and wind chills sitting in the low-to-mid 40s in North Carolina. The leaderboard was populated with big names for much of the day, as Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and others battled to pick up what has become one of the most prestigious non-majors on Tour. By the end of 18 holes, however, it was Ernst and Lynn left standing while the others fell off in the cold and rain. The win shoots Ernst up the rankings, perhaps in record fashion:
Derek Ernst is tied for 1207 in the World with Fred Funk ... would move around 125 with a win ... Guessing that would be a record— Alan Robison (@GolfARob) May 5, 2013
Mickelson's collapse in the final three holes was the most significant, as he held a one shot lead coming into the house. He had at least a share of the lead for the entire day until the 17th green, where he carded a second straight bogey to fall one shot off the pace. Phil appeared to be in total control until he hit the same stretch on Saturday, throwing away a mutli-shot 54-hole lead by playing two of the final four holes in 3-over. With the conditions as they were, Phil didn't need to go low, and simply had to hold on through his last 18 to pick up his first win at an event he praised earlier in the week as one of the best on Tour.
The stumble down the stretch finally pushed Mickelson off the top of the board, with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 dropping him to 7-under for the championship. The greens, which were already in bad shape to start the week, were especially slow and rough on Sunday as the course became further waterlogged. On the 17th, Phil left a long birdie putt more than 10 feet short of the hole, and could not get down in two. That three-putt forced him to make birdie on the last just to get into the playoff with Ernst and Lynn.
Ernst benefitted from multiple WDs by players who were worried about putting on Quail Hollow's beat up greens. He took advantage of the soft putting surfaces on the back side, coming in with a 33, including a birdie on the 18th that clinched his spot in the playoff.
Lynn, an easygoing Englishman, made some noise last month at the Masters, taking the lead early on Thursday morning. It briefly put him in the spotlight before he dropped off the leaderboard as the week at Augusta progressed. It was only his second career major, and he finished inside the top 50 after picking up a second-place finish at last year's PGA Championship.
Lynn nearly put his ball in the water on the first playoff hole at No. 18. It ended up in the hazard, but was not in the drink and still playable. Ernst, meanwhile, played the hole perfectly, putting his drive in the middle of the fairway and sticking his approach shot inside of 15 feet. That was more than enough with Lynn making a mess of the hole up around the green. In addition to the rise up the rankings, Ernst now gets an invite to next week's Players Championship at Sawgrass.