Abraham Ancer Claims World Golf Championship Title
IT HAS been three years in the making and there have been plenty of near misses along the way, but Abraham Ancer of Mexico won the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational for his first PGA Tour title, beating Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns with a six-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole.
Ancer won the WGC event at TPC Southwind after Burns' 5 1/2-foot putt - on the same line as Ancer - lipped out.
"This is surreal," said Ancer, the 30-year-old. "I felt I left so many shots out there on the back nine, but you never know."
Ancer, a former Australian Open champion, 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.
Harris English, the leader after each of the first three rounds, faltered on the back nine to give Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama a chance.
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 in the Tokyo Olympics, made decent runs at birdies. Matsuyama had the shortest attempt - from 20 feet - and it nearly went in the cup before lipping out.
English was seeking the fifth title of his career - and third this season - but collapsed on the back nine. Ahead by two strokes at 20 under at the turn, he played the back nine in 5 over, missing a 13-foot birdie putt on 18.
Bryson DeChambeau, two strokes behind English after a third-round 63, had a 74 to tie for eighth at 12 under.
AND finally....a Scottish golfer wins a European Tour title on home soil. It may have come as something of a surprise to many that the man to do so was Grant Forrest. and he did so in some style, finishing with a birdie at the final hole to pip England's James Morrison to the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews.
Forrest closed with a final round of 66 for a 72-hole total of 264, 24 under par. Santiago Rarrio, of Spain, was three shots adrift in third, while Scotland's David Law and Calum Hill shared fourth place.
Forrest birdied the last two holes pip Morrison, who had set the clubhouse target following a superb 63. He is the first Scottish player to win on home soil since former Open champion Paul Lawrie won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012.
The 28-year-old began the day tied for the lead with compatriot Calum Hill, who moved two shots clear with birdies on the third and fifth and an eagle on the par-five sixth.
However, Forrest recovered from a bogey on the second with birdies on the third, fourth, sixth and eighth to close within a shot before Hill surprisingly three-putted the ninth from 12 feet.
Hill’s bid for a first European Tour title suffered an even bigger blow on the next when he followed a pulled drive by hitting his second shot into a gorse bush.
The 26-year-old eventually signed for a double-bogey six and with playing partner Forrest making a birdie on the same hole, Forrest suddenly enjoyed a three-shot lead.
A birdie on the 11th briefly took Forrest four shots ahead, but the chasing pack had not given up hope and Morrison made five birdies in a row from the 11th to get within a shot of the lead.
Forrest’s three-putt bogey on the 16th dropped him back into a tie for the lead and moments later Morrison birdied the 18th to edge in front, but Forrest responded with a superb tee shot to three feet to set up a birdie on the 17th and then two-putted the par-five 18th for another to seal victory.
The victory in his 77th event will move 2018 European Challenge Tour graduate Forrest into the top 200 in the Official World Golf Ranking and the top 40 on the Race to Dubai.
"There are so many emotions," he said. "To do it in front of everyone who has come up to support me - the last year and a half has been a real challenge on and off the course so I'm just delighted.
"We've been through quite a lot as a family and to do it here, it's what I've always dreamed of to win on the European Tour. I think there's a big party at the in-laws tonight.
"I saw the scoreboard and I knew what I needed to do. Our big thing all day was one shot at a time, let's just keep hitting shots and I hit a great nine iron into 17 nice and close, and that really helps, and then two great shots into 18 - it was a great way to finish."
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