Ernst’s victory another big step in her career
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Austin Ernst won for the first time on the LPGA last week at the Portland Classic. The 22-year-old has been building up to such a moment since picking up a golf club at age 6 in her hometown of Seneca, S.C.
Ernst was a top junior golfer, learning the game from her father, PGA pro Mark Ernst at Cross Creek Plantation, and playing alongside older brother Drew, who played collegiately at Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C. Austin made a sudden impact in college golf at LSU when she won the 2011 NCAA individual title, the first freshman to win it all since Southern Cal’s Jennifer Rosales in 1998, and played on the 2012 Curtis Cup team. She turned pro after his her sophomore season and debuted on the LPGA in 2013.
Portland was the perfect spot for Ernst’s first win. Her brother is now her caddie and she was comfortable at the course. Last year, she shot a career-low 62 in the third round at Columbia Edgewater Country Club – including six consecutive birdies – and finished T9. Last week, she shot 69-69-69-67, and although she bogeyed the last two holes of regulation, she parred the first playoff hole with I.K. Kim to secure the win.
Awaiting a possible playoff, she got on the phone with her father, who suggested checking her alignment with her driver. Drew assisted on site and Austin drove down the middle and made a routine par to win.
Ernst’s most notable statistic is her penchant for making eagles. She made three during her victory – all chip-ins – and leads the LPGA this season with 12 (in 60 rounds). That includes two in one round at the Meijer LPGA Classic earlier this year. She is on pace to make the most eagles in a season since Laura Davies made 15 in 2007. Davies holds the LPGA record with 19 in 2004.
Future major sites
The final major championship of 2014 is scheduled for next week in France at The Evian Championship. The Evian Resort Golf Club is the permanent site for the fifth major of the year. The same holds true for the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which is held annually at Mission Hills Country Club.
But the second, third and fourth majors of the year are held at different sites every year. Here’s a look at their future sites:
|KPMG Women’s PGA Championship|
|2015||Westchester CC, Rye, N.Y.|
|U.S. Women’s Open|
|2015||Lancaster (Pa.) CC|
|2016||CordeValle CC, San Martin Calif.|
|2017||Trump National GC, Bedminster, N.J.|
|2018||Shoal Creek G&CC, Birmingham, Ala.|
|Ricoh Women’s British Open|
2014 major champions entering a major
With one major championship remaining, what to make of the winners of majors thus far this season?
- U.S. Women’s Open winner Michelle Wie is uncertain because of a right hand injury that caused her to take a 3-to-5-week break in early August. She hasn’t played since missing the cut July 18 at the Marathon Classic.
- Ricoh Women’s British Open winner Mo Martin, bothered by a thumb injury, was forced to withdraw before the Portland Classic last week.
- Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Lexi Thompson hasn’t had a finish better than T15 since a T7 at the U.S. Women’s Open.
- Wegmans LPGA Championship winner Inbee Park has gone the other way, with finishes of 4-2-1-3 in her last four LPGA starts.
So Yeon Ryu finished T3 last week in Portland. The South Korean star has shot under par in 15 of her last 16 rounds. The only over-par round was a 1-over 73 in the first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. … There have been 24 holes-in-one this season. The record is 37 in 1999 and 2001.
Topics: Stats and Stuff