NORTON, Mass. -- After yet another sensational round, Bryson DeChambeau is poised to take full control of the FedEx Cup playoffs, but Abraham Ancer surged ahead and hopes to play the role of Cinderella before midnight strikes at the final Dell Technologies Championship.
Ancer barely qualified for this week’s second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs after missing the cut last week at the Northern Trust and came into the week ranked 92nd in the FedEx Cup standings. The 27-year-old has made the most of the opportunity as he went out in 30 and remained steady to the house to take a one-shot lead over DeChambeau and Tyrell Hatton at 13-under total.
“I hit the ball really good today. Got the putter rolling on the front nine, not so much on the back nine, but still hit the ball really well,” Ancer said. “There’s a good stretch of holes out there on the back nine that you have to hit it really, really good and I managed to do that.”
Ancer is ranked 144th in the Official World Golf Ranking and will look for his first PGA Tour win on Labor Day. His career-best finish was a T4 at the Quicken Loans National in July. Ancer didn’t hoist the trophy that week in D.C., but he witnessed a textbook closing performance as playing partner Francesco Molinari shot a final-round 62 to win by eight. You can bet Ancer will be eager to show what he learned from the current Champion Golfer of the Year.
“Just how calm he was and what a great round he played on a big-time golf course, it was not easy. He shot 8 under like nothing,” Ancer said. “I did it the day before which was nice, but looking at how he was doing it I was like wow I’m playing pretty decent and I’m losing by five. Just drawing on that.”
Ancer was born in the US but plays under the Mexican flag as he was raised south of the border. With a win Monday Ancer would become the first Mexican player to win on the PGA Tour since Victor Regalado became the Tour’s only Mexican winner in 1978.
Despite his dual-citizenship, Ancer is clear about where his loyalty lies.
“A lot of people ask me, hey, why do you play for Mexico, you were born [in the US]. That's all I knew, I grew up over there. All my family is from there,” Ancer said. “Obviously immigration-wise it's kind of nice having dual citizenship, it makes everything easier. All my friends know me, and they know I'm very Mexican."
The low round of the day belonged to DeChambeau, who bounced back from a bogey at No. 15 on Sunday by playing his final three holes in 4 under, including a beautiful 5-iron to inside 2 feet for a kick-in eagle at the last. The furious finish coupled with a 4-under outward nine added up to a 63 as the FedEx Cup points leader looks for his second win in as many weeks.
“It's never bad to shoot 4 under your last three holes,” DeChambeau said. “A little frustrated about 15. Hit a really good putt, a fraction too hard, made a 360 lip on me. That's golf. It's going to happen. But I was able to respond well. I think that's the important thing.”
With a win, DeChambeau would become the first player since Vijay Singh in 2008 to sweep the first two legs of the FedEx Cup playoffs. DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time in competition and the pair chatted throughout the round. The 24-year-old said the experience lived up to the hype.
“He's my childhood idol. I've admired him my whole entire life,” DeChambeau said. “And to be finally able to play with him under tournament conditions, it was different. I was a little nervous, for sure. But I was able to get out there and execute shots and worry about my game and focus on hitting the best shots possible. And I was able to play really well like that.”
Justin Rose never quite got things going Sunday on his way to a 1-under 70, but remains squarely in contention at 11 under par along with Cameron Smith. Emiliano Grillo sits in a tie for sixth after he came home in 31 and posted a 64.
Rory McIlroy made an early charge and got to 10-under total at one point but made a bogey at 16 after his tee shot found the water and a short birdie miss at 18 meant McIlroy left the final green fuming despite shooting 66. McIlroy remains in contention however, as he’s in a tie for eighth at 9 under.
Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau join McIlroy at 9 under after solid rounds of 68 and 67, respectively. Both will look to reach the winner’s circle for the first time this season Monday.
Woods got off to a good start with three birdies in his first nine holes but failed to capitalize on several chances coming in and finished with a 68. Once again solid tee-to-green, hitting eight fairways and 12 greens, Woods was just a bit off with the putter.
“I did give myself quite a few looks today,” Woods said. “And I pulled two putts that I can recall off the top of my head right now. That's about it. My speed was a little bit off. I was trying to be a little more aggressive today on the greens and trying to make sure that I gave it a good hit.”
It will take a very low round Monday for Woods to have any chance at his first win in over five years, but he is remaining confident. Woods noted that he’s made significant progress in his long game recently, and he’s just waiting for the putter to heat up.
“I think in general here in the last probably month and a half I've really turned the corner,” Woods said. “I've really hit some good shots and I've really played well from tee to green. And it's just a matter of just getting one little hot stretch with the putter and get it rolling and get the momentum on my side and just get things rolling.”