WGC Invitational: Abraham Ancer wins in Memphis after playoff with Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns
Abraham Ancer birdied the second extra hole to pip Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns to the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational title in Memphis. Long-time leader Harris English and Bryson DeChambeau were a combined 11 over for the back nine!
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 09/08/21 6:11am
Abraham Ancer became the first Mexican to win a World Golf Championship title after an extraordinary final round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.
Ancer birdied the second playoff hole to edge out Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama, the top three all finishing on 16 under par as long-time tournament leader Harris English endured a horrible back-nine collapse at TPC Southwind.
English and playing-partner Bryson DeChambeau were a combined seven-over par for the final day, with English admitting he had been adversely affected when the final pairing were put on the clock as they approached the turn.
English double-bogeyed both par-threes on the inward half as he stumbled home in 40, with DeChambeau running up a triple-bogey six at the short 11th in a back-nine 41.
The trials and tribulations of the final pair, both of whom were chasing their third victories of the season, opened the door for a host of unlikely challengers, with Matsuyama and Burns mounting huge comebacks while Cameron Smith made a mess of the last and closed with a six to finish two back.
Matsuyama was nine shots adrift of English overnight, but the Masters champion made four birdies in five holes from the 12th and returning a superb 63 that earned him the clubhouse lead, which he would soon be sharing with Burns.
The American looked out of the running when he double-bogeyed the 13th to slip to 13 under, but he birdied three of the last four holes and nailed a 25-foot putt for a three at the 18th to force his way into a tie with Matsuyama.
The share of the clubhouse lead increased to three when Ancer completed a resolute 68 just as English was making a mess of the long 16th, a bogey-six seeing him relinquish his lead for the first time since Thursday.
English gave himself a chance to get into the playoff with a bold approach to 12 feet at the last, but his birdie putt lacked conviction and the required pace. He would be left as a bystander as the top three headed back to the 18th tee.
Matsuyama had the best chance on the first extra hole, but his 10-foot putt for the win was a touch heavy and lipped out on the right, and the hole was shared in pars.
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The Japanese ace only just made the green with his approach moments later, while Ancer followed a perfect drive with a cracking second to seven feet, only for Burns to clip a wedge in slightly closer.
And after Matsuyama settled for par, Ancer rattled in his confident putt for a three before Burns did not allow enough break on the same line, his ball performing a 90-degree lipout to leave the Mexican celebrating a famous victory - his first on the PGA Tour.
DeChambeau again declined to speak to the media following his disappointing finish, but English gave a dignified account of how his challenge unravelled after being given the hurry-up by officials on the front nine.
"It felt like we were running pretty much the whole round and that really caught up," said English, who found water from the tee at both the 11th and 14th holes. "So you're having to run between the green and the tee and it's hard for me to slow down.
"You've got to learn from it, you've got to pick up, and had a chance on 18 to get it done, but it is what it is. You definitely start the day in one rhythm and then you kind of get out of that having to walk faster, having to do everything a little faster because you don't want to get a bad time.
"The wind was swirling obviously coming down the stretch, there were some very important shots in there and it was tough. But I've got to learn to slow down, go through my routine and not really worry about being put on the clock."