The most intriguing name on the Honda Classic leaderboard, at least in the early going?
It’s Derek Ernst.
Sound vaguely familiar?
Ernst pulled off what can be argued is one of the great upsets in PGA Tour history last May when he won the Wells Fargo Championship, beating David Lynn in a playoff.
Consider two things: At one point during the final round at Quail Hollow, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Nick Watney shared the lead.
And Ernst won.
Good for him. He was a rookie and it changed his career.
Here’s why Ernst’s name surfacing at the Honda Classic matters:
The Wells Fargo Championship is the only time in Ernst’s PGA Tour career that he has finished inside the top 30 of a tournament. Take out his 30th place finish (in a 30-player field) at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January and his victory is the only time Ernst has had a top-40 finish.
Going into the Honda Classic, Ernst had missed 20 of 31 cuts.
He was brilliant down the stretch at Quail Hollow, getting it done when others couldn’t. It showed what Ernst is capable of doing. Then it went away.
Will Ernst and his game ever come back?
Maybe the Honda Classic will offer a clue.