The Mexican matched the tournament record total of 19-under-par enroute to lifting the trophy at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club
Jeddah, February 5: Abraham Ancer became the first player to win the US$5 million PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers from start to finish today after closing with a two-under-par 68 to finish on 19-under-par, two shots ahead of American Cameron Young.
The highly rated 31-year-old Mexican conducted a masterclass in front running, at the Asian Tour’s season-opening event, to add the title to the other significant victory of his career, the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
“That was my first ever wire-to-wire win,” said Ancer, whose steadiness at the helm was made possible by a solid, repeatable golf swing and sound putting stroke.
“I just didn't think about where I was on the leaderboard. I just felt like I just want to do that again. I played really good the first round, and I just felt like I wanted to keep that going.
“I kept telling myself, just imagine if I was in like 20th place and just got to go out there and shoot a low one. It worked out. I stayed in the moment. Didn't really think too much about the previous shots or what was coming after. So, I'm really happy with my frame of mind during these four rounds.”
Ancer led by two from Young at the start of the day and was caught by the American on the seventh but by the turn he had moved one ahead.
A closely fought contest was then expected over the closing holes but surprisingly Young made a bogey on the par-four 13th, where he found the water with his approach shot, before he made Ancer’s life much easier when he doubled the par-four 15th, after he chipped short and three putted.
It meant Ancer was four ahead with three to play and while Young rallied with birdies on 16 and 18 it was not enough to stop the Asian Tour witnessing only its second ever Mexican winner, after Carlos Espinosa’s success in the 1995 Canlubang Classic in the Philippines.
Remarkably, despite persistent windy conditions during the week Ancer only dropped two shots over the four rounds: on the ninth today and the 17th on day two.
Young matched Ancer’s 68 today at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to fall just two-shots short, the American said after the round, “It’s always disappointing but I think I played pretty well, and I’m playing a bunch the next few weeks. I think I’m in a nice place moving forward.”
“He [Ancer] played some really nice golf. He just didn’t make really any mistakes. I think he maybe made two bogeys this whole week, and with all the wind blowing as hard as it was, that’s, one, tremendous control of your golf ball, and two, I think just a lot of mental toughness.”
The result means Young has now recorded his eight top-three finish since last year, which includes finishing second in The Open, and joint third in the PGA Championship.
“I’m proud of all those finishes. There's nothing I've thrown away, I don't think. If one or two of them was a four-shot lead that I didn't finish off, that's a bummer, but I've been beat a lot. I haven't thrown any of them away.”
Australian Lucas Herbert carded a 65 today to finish third, two shots further back of Young. Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana re-iterated his position as one of the Asian Tour’s most exciting young players when he fired a 66 to secure fourth, another stroke behind.
It was a significant week, not only for the Asian Tour, but also the Arab nations. Saudi Arabia celebrated two of their own when Saud Al Sharif and Faisal Salhab made their professional debuts at this week’s PIF Saudi International. They were joined by seven other Arab golfers in the field this week, two of whom, Egypt’s Issa Abou El Ela and Morocco’s El Mehdi Fakori, impressively made the cut in the Asian Tour’s flagship event.
Fans enjoyed a festival of golfing entertainment and fun over the week at Royal Greens Golf & Country club. Alongside watching Abraham Ancer on his way to victory, thousands of local families and fans enjoyed trick shot shows, miniature golf, connect four basketball, and a whole host of other family-friendly entertainment.
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