Golf fans were treated to another new name in the winner's circle this weekend: Derek Ernst.
According to PGA Tour rookie Derek Ernst's wikipedia page, the 22-year old is a native of Woodland, California. He attended Clovis East High School and most recently UNLV, where he was twice named the Mountain West Conference player of the year. A freak childhood accident left one eye cloudy and his depth perception poor. Following his victory on Sunday at the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship, Ernst is also the sixth first-time winner on Tour this season.
Such has been the trend this PGA Tour season. It seems as though up-and-coming players are having a field day on Tour while veteran players falter late in the weekend. Case in point, Ernst's victory this week came partially in the wake of Phil Mickelson crumbling at Quail Hollow. Ernst also held fast even when the skies opened up late Sunday afternoon, threatening the completion of the final round. Impressive, to say the least. Don't even get me started on Quail Hollow's greens.
Perhaps even more impressive is that Ernst pulled all of this off in only his ninth-career Tour start. After making his professional debut at the 2012 Frys.com Open, Ernst has since missed five cuts, finishing in the top-25 only once: his Wells Fargo victory.
In 2012, he earned $20,000 in one appearance. Ernst has now cracked the $1 million mark in 2013 alone. Not even he can comprehend how far he's come in that time.
"This feeling is unbelievable right now," said Ernst. "All week long my swing felt good, mental game was good. The big thing was, what I said all week long is, I got out of my own way, and it paid off for now."
If staying out of one's own way is the key to winning on the PGA Tour, perhaps a few veterans can learn a thing or two from the new breed.