Abraham Ancer leads Open qualifiers after big win in Australia
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/11/18 3:28pm
Abraham Ancer cruised to a five-stroke win at the Emirates Australian Open to guaranteed himself a place in the field for the 148th Open at Royal Portrush next year.
Ancer was five clear of the field overnight after his stunning 65 in windy conditions on day three, and the Mexican maintained his advantage from the moment he chipped in for a bonus birdie at the fourth hole on Sunday.
The 27-year-old, whose only previous win as a professional was on the Web.com Tour in 2015, went on to fire a composed 69 which proved more than enough to claim the title ahead of Australian pair Dimitrios Papadatos and Jake McLeod, who can also look forward to making their Open debuts in July.
Papadatos and McLeod both produced a glut of birdies over the front nine, but Ancer responded with further gains at eight and nine before his first bogey of the day at the 12th reduced his lead to four strokes.
But after narrowly avoiding the water at the long 14th, Ancer gave himself extra insurance with another birdie and he negotiated the final four holes in par to remain at 16 under and wrap up a five-shot win - the biggest margin of victory in the tournament since Jordan Spieth was six better than the field in 2014.
"This win will give me a lot of confidence and hopefully it'll be the case for me as well," said Ancer, who started the week ranked 96th in the world. "I'm really on cloud nine at the moment. I'd never been to Australia before this week and I think I'm really starting to love this country.
"I didn't want to think about my lead, I just wanted to carry out my plan. I had the lead at a couple of PGA events last year and it didn't work out. I learned a lot from that and it all worked out today."
Ancer is also relishing having another crack at The Open after missing the halfway cut on his debut at Carnoustie, and he added: "I'm extremely excited to be going to Royal Portrush. I got a taste of The Open at Carnoustie earlier this year and it's a Championship I want to come back to every single year.
"I've never been to Northern Ireland before so I'm really looking forward to that. It's going to be incredible. I will try and get over there to play some links golf now that I'm in. It would be great to play an event on links before The Open."
Papadatos won the race for outright second as he recovered from a double-bogey seven at the 14th with two birdies over the last four holes to card a 67 and finish one ahead of McCleod, who dropped his second shot of the final round at the last in a disappointing end to a 66.
But star American duo Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar were unable to get into contention on the final day, with both firing three-over 75s to finish well off the pace.