MORE INTERVIEWS: Well Fargo Championship transcript archive
MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Derek Ernst. You got to 5‑under in the first round, and you're tied for the lead after the morning wave. Just kind of take us through the round some highlights and we'll take a few questions.
DEREK ERNST: I got off to a good start. I birdied 1‑‑ or I started on 10, so I birdied my first hole today and then three‑putted the next. I don't want to go through the whole thing.
MARK STEVENS: No, just some highlights.
DEREK ERNST: I birdied four straight holes through 17, so whatever, 13, 14 or 14, 15, 16, 17 in a row. 17 was sweet. It was like a 60‑footer from just right on the front edge of the green there. Then probably birdieing 8 to get back to 5 right there at the end felt good to get back there, so, yeah.
Q. Can you talk about to begin the week as fourth alternate, what do you think your chances are of even getting into the field, and what has this week been like just getting to number 10?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, I was actually going to play on the Web.com Tour event, so I rented a car‑‑ I played last week in New Orleans, and we were just going to drive to Atlanta. That was about six‑and‑a‑half hours. Then on the way there, I got the call that I was in. So I had to return the car in Athens, and then we rented another car and drove up to Charlotte. I got here Monday night and then played the practice round Tuesday, so, yeah.
Q. So you had to rent another car in order to avoid a huge dropoff charge?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, we called to ask if we could drop it off in Charlotte, and they were like it's another thousand dollars, and we were like okay, no. No way.
Q. On average, what has your alternate number been for the year, do you think?
DEREK ERNST: Probably somewhere around like 8, 9, something like that.
Q. Any inkling that there might be a bunch last Friday just because of talk about the course?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah. You mean coming into this week?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, everyone was hearing there were a lot of guys dropping out. So I was thinking there was a chance of me getting in this week, and I don't know how many guys got in, but I've seen a couple of the guys that are behind me. Probably like five spots got in, so, yeah.
Q. Do you have any idea which player it was that dropped out that you replaced?
DEREK ERNST: For me? Mark Wilson. That is one of the names that the lady told me at the PGA office.
Q. Don't get a lot of 60‑footers here. What were your thoughts on that, the conditions of the green, what was running through your head?
DEREK ERNST: On the last what? Oh, the 60‑footer? I was just trying to get it close. Halfway it started going back downhill then it broke to the left and I was just trying to lag it up there as close as I could. Then about ten feet away, I was like that looks good. Perfect speed, so, yeah.
Q. Green speeds (no microphone)?
DEREK ERNST: Every green is completely different, I feel like. They're good. I mean, for how they look, they roll pretty true. They're really soft so you get a lot of the spike marks, and you've got the greens just not being pure like normal like every week, but it's the same for everyone.
Q. That's a tough adjustment, isn't it, one green to the next?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, you've got to really get down and look at the green. Because some greens are like almost dirt, so those have no grass so there is going to be no friction so it's going to roll faster, which happened on me on my second hole today. But then there are holes like 8. All the holes that they laid new sod over, those are a lot slower because they've got some grain in there and some grass.
Q. You agronomy major at UNLV?
DEREK ERNST: No, hotel management.
Q. What is the significance of the band?
DEREK ERNST: This one? This is called Win the Battle. It's an FCA bracelet, Fellowship of Christian Athletes I got in college, And it's a Bible verse of Ephesians 6:11. It's the armor of God.
Q. I hope you haven't gotten tired of talking about this, but your accident when you were a child with your eye. Had you already been playing golf at that time?
DEREK ERNST: No. Yeah, how I see now is how I‑‑ yeah.
Q. What have you had‑‑ how do you think it's different for you with what vision problems you have?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, everyone's asked me. Like this is how I see. I don't know how everyone else sees, so to me, this is what two good, perfect eyes feel like.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how it actually happened?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, I was in second grade, and I was making my mom a Valentine's Day gift, and I loved like forts and stuff, so my mom got me like a kid's tool set with actual real hammers and saws and stuff like that, but they were like a mini saw, that big. And I was cutting some PVC pipe with that saw and it kind of got stuck, and I decided to‑‑ it was about more than half‑way through, so I slammed the pipe on the ground, and the pipe broke in half and the saw went over there. As soon as I opened my eye, the pipe came up and sliced my eyeball. I had to get ten stitches put in my eyeball, and it's just right down the center of my eye. So I have like a big blur spot, basically, right down the center of my eye.
Q. What was it you were making?
DEREK ERNST: I was making a fence, and I was putting like bears inside the fence. I must have really loved my mom in second grade (laughing).
Q. This might be a dumb question, and it wouldn't be my first, but do you see blurry now or do you know?
DEREK ERNST: If I do this, it's blurry.
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, this is the eye‑‑ if this eye's not good, then I'm not going to be able to really see at all. So I have to make sure that contact that I put in there is fresh and clean every day.
Q. Talk about the rookie season, what it's been like so far?
DEREK ERNST: It's been a lot of fun. It just happened so fast. I stayed amateur until U.S. Am last year in 2012 and then had to go through pre‑qual all the way through. I had no expectations.
Next thing I know I've got my rookie card and I make the cut at the first at Sony Open, then I started thinking about everything. Like, wow. Look at all this. There is Tiger and there are all these guys, and I think I just tried to be someone that I wasn't. Now I've kind of realized that and I'm going back to all the things that got me there in the first place.
Q. What are some of those things?
DEREK ERNST: Some of those things are I changed caddies right when I first got out here thinking‑‑ because everyone says you need to get a professional caddy, and I ended up going back last week in Louisiana I went back to my old caddy here in Terry who has been on my bag since caddies were allowed when you're a junior. And I think he just‑‑ I don't know. We're buddies and we get along really good.
Q. What is his full name?
DEREK ERNST: Aaron Terry.
Q. How much did you pay him as a junior?
DEREK ERNST: I paid for all of his expenses and that was it.
Q. How do you originally know him?
DEREK ERNST: He actually came up to me when I was like 10 years old. He was 21. He came up to me on the driving range. I was just messing around. I wasn't really into golf yet, and he came up and asked my dad if he could give me lessons. I'd met with him every Sunday at 3:00 o'clock until dark and we'd do a lot of short game shots.
Q. You started working with a mental coach; is that right?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, two weeks ago.
Q. What made you turn to a mental coach this early in your career?
DEREK ERNST: I didn't really know she was a mental coach. I thought she was a swing coach. My agent, Burt Kinerk from Tucson, he recommended her. Michael Thompson, actually gets lesson from her. He's known her since he was a kid.
Yeah, I went there and I was like, hey, I need help out with my swing. Everyone thinks their swing's messed up if you're not playing well. So I go there and she doesn't tell me anything about my swing other than how to think around the golf course, and I made the cut last week, and I'm playing well this week and my swing feels better than ever.
Q. What's her name? I guess what in particular do you guys talk about or does she try to get you to concentrate on the golf course?
DEREK ERNST: Her name is Susie Meyers. She just says my mind races way too much. I'm just really fast and I'm jittery, and she just tries to calm me down and think about one thing at a time.
Q. Was Aaron a teaching pro?
DEREK ERNST: Uh‑huh, he was a teaching pro. I met him out at Hank's Swank which is a local drive range where I grew up. And he was out at Sunnyside where I used to get lessons from him later down the road.
Q. Is that in Woodland?
DEREK ERNST: No, it's in Fresno area, Clovis.
Q. Is this your first visit to a media interview center as a pro?
DEREK ERNST: One with all this, yeah, yeah.
Q. Sony, you came out and hung out with us for a little bit?
DEREK ERNST: Oh, yeah, yeah. That's right. I did. I did an online thing before the tournament started.
Q. When you were in second grade and you were making that gift, was your mother in the house?
DEREK ERNST: Uh‑huh, she was in the house.
Q. So here she is, can you remember, was she just hysterical?
DEREK ERNST: No, she was calm. She was like‑‑ I remember everything. I was out in the front driveway, and then the accident happened, and I screamed and I run through the garage into the backyard. My sister is playing outside doing something, and then I ran into the house screaming. My mom comes out and we went to like Valley Children's Hospital, which was the local hospital there in the Fresno area. Then that night at 1 a.m. I had my surgery.
Q. Let's talk about your bio in the media guide for a minute. If you weren't a golfer, you'd be in a rock band?
DEREK ERNST: Sure, yeah.
Q. Elaborate, please?
DEREK ERNST: I love music. Like I said, I'm a very jittery person and my mind races like crazy, So I think music just calms me down. I can only think about one thing. I love listening to either the lyrics or whatever. I play the drums. I play the guitar.
Q. You play the drums?
DEREK ERNST: Uh‑huh.
Q. And the guitar?
DEREK ERNST: Uh‑huh.
Q. Are you good?
DEREK ERNST: I'm okay.
Q. Why was your nickname Stripes in college?
DEREK ERNST: Because Seung‑Su Han who was a senior when I was a freshman, he called me Stripes because I hit it right down the middle every single time, basically.
Q. Assuming this is your first time here?
DEREK ERNST: Uh‑huh.
Q. I mean, is that to your benefit that you don't know this course and how it's played in the past as opposed to some of these guys who are used to different conditions, or do you just block all that out and just hit the ball?
DEREK ERNST: Yeah, I didn't think of any of that. I'm just trying to get used to the course on Tuesday as best as I could. Then, I don't know. Yeah, I don't really think about who has the advantage or doesn't have the advantage.
Q. But as far as most guys once they've played a course they get a better feel for it and stuff. You don't really have much of that. So you go shot by shot?
DEREK ERNST: It's all grass. It's all a hole. It's all hitting a ball in a field, and whoever hit it's the most accurate.
Q. What kind of music do you listen to?
DEREK ERNST: I listen to a lot of different stuff, mostly Christian music, a lot of country. I love going to country concerts. That's why I live in Vegas because they all show up there a lot. Then a few‑‑ I listen to a little bit of rock to.
Q. Can you give us an example of today's round where your mind started to race but because of something that Susie helped you with you were able to focus or get back?
DEREK ERNST: Right there on‑‑ what is that par‑3, 6? Is 6 the par‑3? I three‑putted that one, and my mind started‑‑ I really started like complaining or saying some stuff and getting really fidgety. I thought about breath walking, basically, where you just deep breathe. All you think about is breathing, and it takes your mind off of everything else.