Ancer takes three-way St. Jude playoff for first PGA Tour win

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

Abraham Ancer thought he had blown his shot at his first PGA Tour win the first time he played the 18th hole on Sunday. Turns out he just needed two more chances on the hole to make it happen. 

Ancer birdied the second playoff hole from six feet and watched as Sam Burns missed almost the same putt to give him the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational title as the third man in the playoff, Hideki Matsuyama, also made par. 

After finishing as runner-up four times in his previous 120 Tour starts, Ancer finally prevailed in Memphis to become the ninth first-time winner this season and the fourth player from Mexico to win on Tour. 

"This is surreal," he told CBS. "I thought I left so many shots out there on the back nine, but you never know. Golf is crazy.

"There's been some times that I felt like I made enough birdies to win and I didn't win. This is kind of how it goes and I'm happy that I got lucky."

A significant portion of that luck came on the first playoff hole, when Matsuyama had a chance to win it but saw his long putt for birdie on 18 lip out, sending the trio back to the 18th tee for another go.

The 2021 Masters champion turned in the round of the day just to make the playoff, firing a bogey-free seven-under 63 to fly up the leaderboard on the final day. 

Burns was close behind with a 64, a double bogey on 13 his only blemish. 

Harris English, who held a two-stroke lead after each of the first three rounds, watched those three fly by him as he slumped to a three-over 73 and finished fourth after opening the tournament with rounds of 62, 65 and 65. 

English bogeyed the opening hole before regaining his stride with three birdies, but he did not make another after the eighth hole, posting double bogeys at 11 and 14 and a bogey at the par-five 16th. 

The American said afterward that a warning for slow play on the front nine knocked him out of rhythm and he felt like he was rushing the rest of the day.

His playing partner Bryson DeChambeau had an even more difficult time after working himself into contention with a 63 on Saturday. 

DeChambeau carded a triple-bogey six on the 11th and also did not manage a birdie on the back nine on the way to a 74 that left him tied for eighth at 12 under for the tournament. 

Rough as that triple was for DeChambeau, honours for worst hole of the day went to Kim Si-woo.

The South Korean hit five successive shots in the water at the 11th on the way to a 13 – the worst score on a par-three hole on the PGA Tour since 1983, not including majors.

Among other notables, Dustin Johnson (70) tied for 10th at 11 under, one stroke better than Rory McIlroy (66) and Jordan Spieth (67).

Phil Mickelson (68) finished at seven under along with Louis Oosthuizen, who floundered to a 74 in the final round. 

Sergio Garcia (72), Collin Morikawa (69) and defending champion Justin Thomas (72) were at five under, with Patrick Reed (70) and Lee Westwood (71) one back of them. 

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele (68) was at even par and Brooks Koepka (76) at two over. 

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    McIlroy – winner of October's CJ Cup – was almost flawless on the opening day as the four-time major champion joined Daniel Berger and Abraham Ancer a stroke clear atop the leaderboard.

    McIlroy had an eagle, six birdies and a double-bogey at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas on Thursday.

    "It was nice to play the back nine the way I did and put myself back in the tournament," said McIlroy, who did not drop a shot on the back nine with three birdies and an eagle, which he improbably chipped in.

    Berger boasted a four-shot advantage at one point in the first round after bursting out the blocks with four consecutive birdies, though two bogeys on the back nine undid some of that good work.

    But McIlroy and Ancer ensured the American must share the lead entering Friday's second round, the former going five-under following the turn at the PGA Tour tournament.

    Fellow leader Ancer finished in similar style, despite also faltering with a bogey on the ninth, recording five birdies after the halfway point to join the group on six under.

    It looked like there would be a different leader, however, with American star Justin Thomas a shot in front until the final hole, which he double-bogeyed.

    Brooks Koepka – a four-time major champion – joins the 2017 PGA Championship winner after registering 67, with Webb Simpson also a shot off the initial mark.

    The quality on display does not stop there, with Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa all managing 68 to sit two shots off the three-man leading pack ahead of day two.

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    The former world number one and 15-time major champion suffered serious injuries to his right leg after a car crash in February and previously revealed he had feared the limb would have to be amputated.

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    Woods suffered open fractures to his right tibia and fibula in the accident in California and the 45-year-old explained that losing his leg was a serious possibility.

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    Woods was previously forced to go through a number of operations on his back, but recovered well enough to claim a shock 2019 Masters victory.

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    Los Angeles police said in April that Woods' crash was caused by excessive speeds that led him to lose control of the vehicle he was driving.

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    He was travelling at an estimated 75mph when he hit a tree, with officers believing the five-time Masters champion might have inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake as there was no evidence of braking.

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