Abraham Ancer of Mexico hit a terrific approach and sank a birdie on the second playoff hole to win the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday in Memphis, Tenn.
Ancer, 30, defeated Sam Burns and Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama of Japan to cap off a wild day at TPC Southwind.
The trio played the par-4 18th hole twice during the playoff, and all three made par the first time around. On the second go-round, Ancer was 145 yards away from the pin and rolled his ball to about six feet.
Burns went next and landed his ball just inside Ancer’s. But after Matsuyama missed a long birdie try and Ancer converted his, Burns’ birdie putt lipped out nearly 180 degrees back at him.
Ancer’s first career PGA Tour win was a long time coming. The No. 23 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Ancer has four second-place finishes to his name, including one in May at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“Definitely a dream, a dream come true to win on the PGA TOUR, and to do it on a big stage like a WGC event was really, really cool, man,” Ancer said. “It was a crazy round. I thought I was going to need a really low one to have a chance today, but it just worked out that it was like pretty much survival mode on the back nine.”
At 16-under 264, Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama went to a playoff following the collapses of 54-hole leader Harris English, Bryson DeChambeau and Australia’s Cameron Smith.
English moved to as low as 20 under for the tournament and led by three strokes at one point. He made birdies at Nos. 3, 6 and 8, the latter a 31-foot putt that drew all the momentum his way.
But on the par-3 11th and 14th holes, he found water hazards off the tee and struggled to recover, making double bogey on each hole. English later missed a birdie putt on No. 18 that would have qualified him for the playoff.
English (73) finished alone in fourth place at 15 under.
“It sucks to finish fifth or fourth, I don’t know what I finished, but I can still take a lot of positives from this week,” English said. “I played great golf. Really had a tough nine holes and that was it.”
Playing in the final pairing with English, DeChambeau chipped in for birdie at No. 5 but followed it with an errant tee shot on No. 6 that landed under a fence, nearly out of bounds. He was granted relief but hit his second shot into a tree branch en route to a bogey.
DeChambeau followed English into the water off the tee at No. 11 and put his next shot in a bunker, leading to a triple bogey that killed any hope of contending the rest of the day. He shot 41 on the back nine and 74 for the day.
Earlier in the afternoon, Matsuyama posted a final-round 63 and Burns turned in a 64 to set the clubhouse lead.
“When you start the day 8 back, you’re just trying to post a good round and see what happens,” Burns said. “Fortunately enough Hideki and I did that … But I don’t hope either of those guys (English and DeChambeau), you know, lose it. I hope they play well on the last couple holes.”
Ancer (68) joined the group at 16 under after leaving a would-be go-ahead birdie putt on No. 18 a few inches short. He finished the day with three birdies and just one bogey.
Ancer was asked if he ever began to think that winning the tournament wasn’t meant to be.
“That thought wanted to slip in my head a little bit,” Ancer said, “and I just said, hey, what are you doing? You worked your ass off to be here, this is the time that you’re going to go and get it, you’re going to make birdie and you’re going to win this tournament. That’s what I kept telling myself.”
Smith also missed some chances to seize control when the leaders tumbled. A birdie at the last hole would have put him at 17 under and in position to win. Instead, his tee shot flew way off line into a wooded area, and his second shot caromed off a tree and out of bounds. He finished the round with a double bogey.
Smith (72), Daniel Berger (66) and Englishman Paul Casey (67) tied for fifth at 14 under. DeChambeau and Will Zalatoris (69) finished 12 under in a tie for eighth.
–Field Level Media
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