LA QUINTA -- Former Clovis East High star Derek Ernst entered the sixth and final round of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament Monday within striking distance of the leader.
Just two strokes back and in a tie for third, it turns out Ernst would need that lofty position to keep him from falling out of the top 25 and earning a PGA Tour card that comes with it. Ernst was at 2 under at the turn but played the back nine at 4 over, holding on for a 2-over 74 at the PGA West Stadium Course and a tie for 17th over the six-day tournament at 19-under 413.
If Ernst needed any indication that failing to earn a Tour card was possible, he needed only to look at Edward Loar, who started the round tied for third with Ernst and Steve LeBrun. But in Loar's case, he finished double bogey-bogey to come in at 6-over 78 and missed earning his card by two strokes.
Ernst shot a 68 and a 67 in the first and fourth rounds on PGA West, and carded a 68, 70 and 66 in the second, third and fifth rounds on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament course.
Another local standout in former Fresno State golfer Bhavik Patel didn't finish in the top 25 and ties, but he did come in the next wave of players that earned web.com Tour cards by shooting a par 72 at PGA West to finish tied for 49th at 13-under 419.