Abraham Ancer wins WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational after three-man playoff, wild finish

Abraham Ancer

Abraham Ancer hits his tee shot on Sunday on the 7th hole at TPC Southwind.

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Abraham Ancer, finally, is a winner. 

And the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, finally, had a winner. 

On a day where seemingly no one wanted to raise the trophy, it was perhaps poetic that the player who did had never done it before on the PGA Tour. Ancer, as talented a golfer as there is in the game, yet without a win in 120 starts, won his 121st, dropping a six-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff to prevail at TPC Southwind. 

Ancer beat Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama in the extra holes. Had you foreseen this ahead of Sunday, there’s no need for you to read the rest of these words, as you’re very likely a psychic and know what’s coming. Ancer started the final round five shots behind Harris English, Burns was eight back and Matsuyama nine. Then each shot, in that order, 68, 64 and 63 to finish at 16 under. 

And those who had been ahead of them? Well … 

English led by three shots after 10 holes. And then? Then he double-bogeyed the par-3 11th after hitting his tee shot into the water. Then he double-bogeyed the par-3 14th after, yes, hitting his tee shot into the water. Then he completed the collapse with a bogey on 16. 

Bryson DeChambeau was two shots back to start the day. He was tied for the lead after just one hole after he birdied and English parred. And then? Then he shot a back-nine 41, which included a bogey on 10, a triple bogey on 11, a bogey on 15, and a bogey on 18. 

Cameron Smith was also two shots back to begin Sunday. He was tied for the lead entering 18. And then? Then he hit into the trees on his tee shot, tried to punch through a tiny gap and hit out bounds. He finished the hole with a double bogey. 

In the end, Ancer was a winner. Finally. 

The big takeaway 

It’s really hard to win. Like, really, really, really hard. Ask Ancer. Ask English, DeChambeau and Smith, too. 

How the lead changed hands (hang on!)

— Harris English begins the final round at 18 under and leads Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith by two shots, Abraham Ancer by four shots, and Scottie Scheffler and Ian Poulter by five shots.  

— English bogeys the 414-yard, par-4 1st after missing the green on his approach shot, and DeChambeau birdies it on a 20-foot putt, and the two are tied at 17 under after one hole. Smith is one back, Ancer is two, and Pouter three.

— Smith birdies the 387-yard, par-4 2nd, and he moves into a tie for the lead with English and DeChambeau. They are at 17 under, two ahead of Ancer, and three in front of Poulter. 

— Ancer birdies the 570-yard, par-5 3rd to pull within one of the lead. It’s his second birdie in a row. 

— English and DeChambeau birdie the 3rd to move to 18 under, one shot ahead of Smith, and two ahead of Ancer. 

— DeChambeau flubs a pitch on the 194-yard, par-3 4th after barely covering the water on his tee shot, and he drops out of the lead. English is at 18 under, one shot ahead of DeChambeau and Smith, and two ahead of Ancer. 

— DeChambeau pitches in from 51 feet away to birdie the 475-yard, par-4 5th and pull back into a tie for the lead with English. They are at 18-under, one shot ahead of Smith, and two ahead of Ancer.      

— Ancer bogeys the 481-yard, par-4 6th to fall three behind. 

— DeChambeau nearly hits out of bounds on the 6th, gets cart path relief, then hits a tree on his second shot, and he bogeys the hole. Harris, meanwhile, birdies it after hitting his approach to four feet, and he is now at 19 under, one stroke ahead of Smith (who birdied the 481-yard, par-4 7th), and two strokes ahead of DeChambeau. Ancer and Sam Burns are four behind. 

— Smith bogeys the 173-yard, par-3 8th to fall two behind Harris with DeChambeau. 

— English birdies the 8th on a 31-foot putt to move to 20 under and three shots ahead of DeChambeau and Smith. Ancer and Hideki Matsuyama are five back. 

— Smith bogeys the 452-yard, par-4 9th after hitting his approach into the water, and he is now four shots behind English. 

— DeChambeau birdies the 9th on a 15-foot putt to pull within two shots of English. English is at 20 under, while DeChambeau is at 18, Smith is at 16 and Ancer and Matsuyama are at 15. 

— Smith bogeys the 155-yard, par-3 11th to fall five back of English. 

— DeChambeau hits his tee shot on the 457-yard, par-4 10th into the water, and he bogeys the hole to fall three shots behind English. English is at 20 under, DeChambeau is at 17, Matsuyama is at 16, and Ancer, Smith and Burns are at 15. 

— On the 11th, English hits his tee shot short and into the water, and DeChambeau hits his long and into the drink. English double-bogeys the hole, and DeChambeau triple-bogeys it. The leaderboard now stands this way: English at 18 under, Matsuyama and Smith at 16 under, Burns and Ancer at 15 under, and DeChambeau at 14 under. 

— Ancer birdies the 466-yard, par-4 13th to pull within two of English with Matsuyama and Smith.

— Smith birdies the 181-yard, par-3 14th on an 11-foot putt to pull within one of English. Matsuyama and Ancer are two back of the lead, Burns is three back, and DeChambeau four. 

— Smith bogeys the 382-yard, par-4 15th after missing a 7-footer for par, and he drops to 16 under with Burns, Matsuyama and Ancer, two shots behind English, who has hit his tee shot on the 14th in the water. 

— English hits his tee shot on the 14th into the water way right, and he double-bogeys the hole. Five players are now at 16 under and tied for the lead: English, Burns, Matsuyama, Smith and Ancer. DeChambeau, Daniel Berger and Paul Casey are two back.  

— English bogeys the 538-yard, par-5 16th after mishitting the green on his approach shot, and he drops out of the lead. Burns, Matsuyama, Smith and Ancer are at 16 under, while English is at 15 under, and Berger and Casey are at 14. 

— Smith hits his drive on the 447-yard, par-4 18th right and into the trees, then hits out of bounds on his second shot, and he would double-bogey the hole to drop to 14 under. 

— Ancer misses a 29-foot birdie putt on 18 to remain at 16 under. He is tied for the lead with Burns and Matsuyama, one shot ahead of English, and two ahead of Smith, Berger and Casey. 

— English misses a birdie putt on 18. Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama will move on to a playoff starting on the 18th. 

— On the first hole of the playoff, Ancer pars after missing a 30-foot birdie putt, Burns pars after missing a 27-foot birdie putt, and Matsuyama pars after lipping out an 18-foot birdie putt. They will replay the 18th for the second playoff hole. 

— On the second hole of the playoff, Ancer and Burns each hit to within about five feet on their approach shots, while Matsuyama hits to 24 feet. From there, Matsuyama just misses his birdie putt and pars, Ancer makes his birdie putt and Burns lips out. Ancer wins his first PGA Tour tournament.    

The final word 

“That was really crazy, to be honest. — Abraham Ancer’s first words to CBS’ Amanda Balionis after his victory.  

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor