Champion rewind: Abraham Ancer
Caddie's local knowledge leads Ancer to victory at Nova Scotia Open
July 06, 2015
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Abraham Ancer's win moved him to No. 4 on the money list.
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – A few weeks before the start of the Nova Scotia Open, Abraham Ancer received a Twitter message from Sara Wilson, a Halifax-area resident who was an assistant pro at Ashburn Golf Club (New) for about 14 years.
Wilson had caddied for Ancer in the second round of last year’s event, and she wanted to reach out to see if the job was still available for this year.
Ancer said it was. With Wilson’s help on the greens, he went on to shoot 13-under 271 and defeat Bronson Burgoon with a birdie on the first playoff hole, earning his first Web.com Tour title and securing his PGA TOUR card for next season.
“She knows the golf course really well,” said Ancer, who moves to No. 4 on the Regular Season money list. “The main thing is that she was great on the greens. I did all my yardages and stuff, but she was good on the greens which gave me confidence, and she was outstanding.”
Throughout the week at Ashburn Golf Club, players remarked about how the greens took some time to adjust to: they were fairly slow by Tour standards, but they carried a lot of slope at the same time.
Ancer entered the week with Tour-average putting statistics, but he ranked 18th in putts per green in regulation in Halifax. With his stellar ball-striking numbers remaining intact, the local knowledge on the greens gave Ancer an extra edge, and he took advantage.
“These greens can be pretty tricky,” said Ancer, dedicating the victory to his late father, who passed away about a year and a half ago. “They have a lot of breaks and with the grain, you see some putts that look pretty fast but they’re really not, and then some that are actually pretty fast.
“Sara gave me good lines, and she just freed me to just think about my stroke and put a good stroke on it. She was good. I had fun with her, and she was good reading those greens, that’s for sure.”
Ancer’s best finish of the season prior to Halifax was a T2 at the Brasil Champions presented by HSBC, where he entered the final round in a tie for third and closed in 2-under 69 to improve his position.
The University of Oklahoma graduate learned a lot from his experience in Brazil, and he applied the lessons effectively Sunday at Ashburn GC.
“I was just kind of anxious and trying to make everything,” said Ancer of his memories from the final round in Brazil. “That was the first time I was in contention on this Tour … I held it together, and I was able to shoot a solid round, but I was pretty unsettled.
“It’s 18 holes and you can’t birdie them every time; that’s what I kept thinking about today. Just hit a bunch of greens, and you’re going to make some.”
Ancer finished T35 at Final Stage of last year’s Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn strong status for the beginning part of 2015, and he took advantage by starting the season with four consecutive top-25 finishes, essentially securing his status for the remainder of the season.
The 24-year-old hit a midseason lull, however, missing four consecutive cuts between late March and early May. His ball striking wasn’t honed in like normal, and he was shooting uncharacteristic rounds in the mid-to-high 70s.
The self-taught Ancer “went back to the drawing board,” asking himself what he was doing wrong. He realized that he had started trying to change his natural ball flight, and that his basic swing principles were being thrown off in the process.
He made a concerted effort to return to his “normal swing,” and eventually righted the ship.
“I’ve never had a swing coach, so my swing has always been the same,” said Ancer. “It’s all about tempo and feel. I was trying to hit it higher and higher for some reason, with a draw, and I was just doing the wrong thing.
“I just went back and asked myself, ‘When have I hit it the best?’ and just kept thinking about what I did. Small things … I just messed around with ball position; I was coming over the top. I just started to drop my hands a little bit at the top, and it’s back to where it’s supposed to be.”
Ancer made three of five cuts heading into Halifax, but had not recorded a top-25 finish since his runner-up in Brazil, all the way back in mid-March.
After making the proper adjustments, he had been happy with his ball-striking for the past few weeks, but so-so play on the greens had kept him from shooting enough low rounds to record high finishes.
With the help of some local knowledge on the greens, things came together for Ancer at the Nova Scotia Open.
“The ball striking has been there, I think,” said Ancer. “I just hadn’t been reading the greens well enough, not stroking the putter well enough.
“This week, I just made more putts. Whenever the putter gets hot, it will be a good week.”