Derek Ernst leads after marathon day at REX Hospital Open
June 04, 2021
By Zach Dirlam, PGATOUR.COM
- June 04, 2021
Derek Ernst interview after Round 2 of the REX Hospital Open
RALEIGH, N.C. – It was a marathon day at the REX Hospital Open, with some players walking upwards of 16 miles and playing 36 holes. When the sun finally set Friday, Derek Ernst sat atop the leaderboard at 12-under par, holding a one-stroke lead over Raleigh, North Carolina native Andrew Novak, whose 10-under 10 from Thursday held up for the 18-hole lead.
After inclement weather suspended Thursday’s opening round at 1:21 p.m., with only 30 players officially posting a score, play resumed Friday at 8 a.m. The second round was suspended due to darkness at 8:22 p.m.
Ernst made just one bogey in 36 holes Friday, carding a bogey-free 7-under 64 in the morning and a 5-under 66 in the afternoon. The Woodland, California native birdied four of his first seven holes – Nos. 3, 4, 6, and 7 – in his first round, opened his second round with back-to-back tap-in birdies at Nos. 10 and 11, and closed his day with four birdies in the last six holes.
“This might be the first time in my nine years on the PGA (TOUR) and Korn Ferry (Tour) I’ve played 36 in one day,” Ernst said. “Playing pretty good. Took last week off. It was just nice hanging out with the family (and) coming here a little more refreshed and ready to go.
“Making a lot of putts. I felt like my speed was good. Just not really missing it much, keeping it in play.”
Ernst currently ranks 107th in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings, and missed 19 cuts in his 28 previous starts this season. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas alum is coming off a T21 finish at the AdventHealth Championship, but he admits golf and his ranking are hardly what he worries about anymore.
“I’m just trying to have fun,” Ernst said. “I’ve got a girl who’s turning 5 in a couple months. Just not really thinking about golf as much. And studying on things that don’t pertain to golf. My mind is off golf.”
Novak, who was born at REX Hospital, began his second round off No. 10 at 7:17 p.m. He birdied the par-4 10th and moved to 11-under par for the tournament. Novak has 14 holes remaining in his second round. Cary, North Carolina native Ben Kohles carded a 3-under 68 in the morning and a 7-under 64 in the afternoon Friday, putting him in solo third position at 10-under par through two days.
Play will resume Saturday at 7 a.m., and tee times for the third round will begin at 1 p.m., with groups of three off the first and 10th tees.