It’s a special first for Abraham Ancer…
The 30-year-old Mexican American professional golfer has claimed the first PGA Tour victory of his career at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Ancer outlasted third-round leader Harris English, who was at 20 under midway through the final round. Ancer, playing the 10th hole, was 5 strokes behind at TOC Southwind.
“I said to [my caddie]: ‘Harris is running away with it, I’ve got to make some birdies, I’ve got to make a move,'” Ancer said.
Ancer didn’t run off a string of birdies, but he played steady, bogey-free golf and won his first title — in his 121st start — beating Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns with a 6-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff.
“It was a dream come true to win on the PGA Tour,” Ancer said.
Ancer won the World Golf Championships event after Burns’ 5½-foot putt — on the same line as Ancer — lipped out.
“This is surreal,” said Ancer, the former University of Oklahoma player who was born in McAllen, Texas. “I felt I left so many shots out there on the back nine, but you never know.”
Ancer, who finished second at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, played more aggressively on the second extra trip down the par-4 18th.
“I went right at it and the shot played perfectly in my mind and it came out just how I pictured it,” he said.
English, the leader after each of the first three rounds, faltered on the back nine to give Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama a chance.
English made a double-bogey 5 at No.11 after hitting his tee shot in the water.
“I played good on the front nine and just kind of hit a road bump on 11,” he said. “I got the wind [reading] wrong and it kind of went downhill from there.”
Ancer closed with a 2-under 68 to match Matsuyama and Burns at 16-under 264. Matsuyama shot a 63, and Burns had a 64. English, the 2013 champion at TPC Southwind, was a stroke back after a 73.
On the first extra hole, Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama, coming off a bronze-medal playoff loss at the 2020 Tokyo Games, made decent runs at birdies. Matsuyama had the shortest attempt — from 20 feet — and it nearly went in the cup before lipping out.
“It’s tough to lose in a playoff,” Matsuyama said. “but I wasn’t able to hit the fairway with either tee shot [in the playoff]. I did my best.
English was seeking the fifth title of his career — and third this season — but collapsed on the back nine. Ahead by 2 strokes at 20 under at the turn, he played the back nine in 5 over. He missed a 13-foot birdie putt on 18.
Ancer made only one birdie on the back nine.
“It was definitely a surprise to win,” Ancer said. “I couldn’t believe I was tied for the lead on [No. 16]. I thought I was 4 behind. But you never know in golf.”