sport

Ernst thrilled by exemption

Derek Ernst says securing his future for the next two years was the best spin-off of his Wells Fargo Championship win.

Ernst, ranked 1,207 in the world, shocked the golfing world by seeing off a world-class field in North Carolina to land his first PGA Tour title after beating England's David Lynn in a play-off.

The victory, which secured him full playing rights on the PGA Tour for the next two years, came on just his ninth start and only after a series of withdrawals (due to the poor state of the greens) had secured him a place in the field.

Ernst was the fourth alternate at the start of the week and was actually driving to Athens, Georgia in a hire car to play a Web.com event before he received a phone call to say he had made it into the field at Quail Hollow.

The 22-year-old rookie actually swapped rental cars in Georgia so he wouldn't have to pay the $1,000 fee for dropping the car in another location but says this week he'll be flying to Florida for the Players Championship.

Entry to the prestigious Sawgrass event was just one of the spin-offs of the victory. Ernst also secured himself a seven-figure pay-check, a place in two World Golf Championships, the PGA Championship, the Tournament of Champions next year at Kapalua and The Masters next April.

However, he was in little doubt which bonus was most important.

"It's the two years (exemption) on Tour, for sure," said Ernst. "The money is money, it will come and go. But winning and having a job and playing out here for the next two years, that's what I want to do. I want to play out here, so that is the best part."

Ernst said winning at Quail Hollow was "unbelievable" and put his success down to taking one shot at a time.

"All week long, my swing felt good, my 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.

"In the beginning of the year I was trying to control everything. I'd be like okay, I've got to do this on this hole. I've got to do this on the next hole, and then maybe I'll have a chance, and then you just completely screw with your mind.

"Today, the last three holes I didn't think about anything other than the next shot. So that's what I mean by the process and getting out of your own way."