Abraham Ancer will be the first Mexican to play in the Presidents Cup after he secured a berth on the International Team at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
Ancer fell just one shot short of his first PGA TOUR win in the opening FedExCup Playoff event, but his runner-up result catapulted the 28-year-old to fifth in the International Team standings.
With the top-eight players on the list after next week’s BMW Championship securing a spot for the 12-15 December event at Royal Melbourne, Ancer has locked up his place.
There are not enough world ranking points available for four players to overtake him.
Ancer would have been in the mix for a captain’s pick from Ernie Els had he not qualified given he won the Australian Open last year and was second in the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup at Kingston Heath.
But he did not want to tempt fate.
‘I didn’t want to leave it to a decision. I wanted to lock it in. That was one of my main, main goals for this year,’ Ancer said.
‘That is going to be an experience that I will never, never forget. I think the first Mexican that’s going to play in The Presidents Cup; that’s huge. I mean, I get a little bit of goosebumps right now just talking about it.
‘Just for Mexican golf, I think it’s big. Obviously for me, being selfish, it’s awesome and it’s going to be a lot of fun, but in the bigger picture for Mexican golf, it’s awesome.’
Having been in and around the qualification zone for most of the season only to fall out over the back half of the year, Ancer went to great lengths to keep it out of his thinking at tournaments.
At Liberty National he was also facing the prospect of needing to play well to keep his season alive one more week.
‘Every week I’m definitely thinking about it, but when I’m on the golf course, I try not to,’ he said of the scenarios.
‘We’re always playing for something. Doesn’t matter where you’re at, if you’re 125 or up here, you’re always playing for something. It’s just how you think. I think I’m pretty good at blocking out stuff from the outside and just focus on what I’m doing from that moment.’
Ancer had an outside chance to force a playoff with Reed if he could make birdie on the 72nd hole. But he had to do so from 42 feet away. Despite knowing a three-putt might jeopardise his place at Royal Melbourne or the TOUR Championship he gave his putt a good run.
It went seven feet past the hole. But he locked in on the return putt and made it.
‘When I finished I was a little down because I didn’t get it done and I feel like I played good,’ Ancer added. ‘But then getting all this news that I’m going to THE TOUR Championship, playing all the Majors, going to the Masters, making the Presidents Cup team … all that, I was like, man, this is not too bad.
‘I’m extremely happy, proud the way I performed today, and like I said, I’m going to keep going. I still obviously want that W, but really proud with all the boxes that I checked off today.’
Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama join Ancer as locks on the International Team that will look to end the stranglehold the US has on the biennial team event.
Hoatong Li is likely to join Ancer as a history maker as the first Chinese player to make the team.
Australian Cameron Smith sits seventh in the standings with CT Pan from Chinese Taipei in eighth. In a major shock 12-time PGA TOUR winner Jason Day has dropped to ninth spot.
Day and Pan have a chance to send Smith out of the team at next week’s BMW Championship as Smith failed to qualify to Medinah Country Club.
Pan should jump Smith with a result inside the top 60 of the 70-man field. Day is likely to need to be somewhere inside the top 25.
But there remain a few wildcards in the mix.
South Korean Sungjae Im could be a factor with a top-three finish in Chicago. His countrymen Sung Kang, Si Woo Kim and Ben An likely need a top-two finish.
Canadians Corey Conners and Adam Hadwin plus Argentina’s Emilio Grillo and South African Dylan Fritelli can make waves with a victory.