Abraham Ancer is 29 at the end of February, but he has already experienced so much in his short golf career up to this point, that he could write his autobiography.
The first Mexican player to break into the world’s top 100 golfers, and the first of his countrymen to represent the International Team in the President’s Cup event, he will play his first Masters in April and his third Open Championship.
Here, Ancer reveals how the adversity of returning to the Web.com tour – having lost his PGA Tour card before gaining it back a year later – taught him valuable lessons and helped ready himself for a second crack playing alongside the world’s best…
RSNG How important is it to have the best clubs, golf balls and knowledge available to you at elite level?
ABRAHAM ANCER, MEXICO’S TOP GOLFER ‘When I first became a professional, I was still playing with the same equipment that I had used as an amateur during my college days, Nike. I felt that it was the best for me, I felt really comfortable using it and I wasn’t really looking to change anything.’
‘However, when Nike stopped producing golf clubs, balls and bags, I had to think about what I was going to do. It’s actually quite a nerve-wracking thing to have to start again… and that’s what it feels like, like you’re starting again and relearning a lot of what you thought you knew.
‘Ultimately, all I was interested in was using what I felt most comfortable using, because for me, that is the most important thing.’
RSNG You weren’t swayed by the dollar signs?
AA ‘No! It didn’t matter to me about signing a contract with a company, as it’s all about playing well to be in the sport and if you’re going to play well, you’re going to finish high up the leaderboard in events and make money that way.’
RSNG You chose Miura – what should people look for when selecting new clubs?
AA ‘Personally, I do like to have a balance between the feel of the club, and the numbers I hit during the process of testing the equipment. I split my faith across the two.’
‘I am the type of player who has learned that you need to do a lot of testing with new equipment. When I first came onto the tour, I was playing shots on the range – I hit a few good ones and I thought it was an easy decision.’
‘However, after a few weeks playing in events, it became apparent that something wasn’t right. I went back and began testing again, this time getting a real feel for the numbers.’
‘In a sense it’s no different to learning the sport itself – trial and error comes into it a lot and you’ve got to accept that things don’t come right, first time.’
‘There is plenty of exposure for the game in Mexico and that can only bode well for the future’
RSNG Over the last few years, golf has been growing in Mexico. Tell us a little bit about how important to you that is?
AA ‘Yeah… well in 2018 there was a huge amount of investment put into a new initiative called ‘The First Tee’ and that is aimed at trying to create a new generation of young golfers. That’s been a big help, and I think the more people are given access to something the more they will respond to it.’
‘Alongside that, there have been three World Golf Championship events in Mexico and that is thanks to the CEO of TV Azteca, Benjamin Salinas, and his whole family for setting that up in helping to build momentum over the last three years.’
‘It means that there is plenty of exposure for the game in Mexico and that can only bode well for the future.’
RSNG Does Mexico feel in the shadow of the US at all?
AA ‘Clearly America has a great legacy of golfers who have really driven the way forward in the sport – there is no doubting that. Some of the finest golfers ever to have lived have come from the States and they are as much role models for me as they are for Americans.’
‘At the end of the day if you are a fan of golf, you are a fan of golf, and it shouldn’t really matter where you are from – it’s such a shared passion.’
‘But things change over time in sport. I remember the time America was winning all the sprint events at the Olympic Games. Now there is Jamaica, the Canadians… nothing stays the same. If we thought it did, we’d not bother getting out of bed!’
RSNG You became the first Mexican player to play in the President’s Cup. How did that feel?
AA ‘It was such a tremendous feeling and as I’m obviously not American or European, I will never qualify to play in the Ryder Cup. So to play in the Presidents Cup and represent the International Team was always a huge ambition of mine.’
‘Having been sat at home watching the other players performing at the event in the past, I was always hopeful that I could up my form and play my way into the team. I told the team captain Ernie Els very early on that I wanted to make the team and the way I was playing, I made sure that he couldn’t ignore me.’
‘There is no greater incentive to win something back than when you’ve had it taken away from you’
RSNG You speak about improving your form. What has been the key to doing that?
AA ‘Well, it helps to gather the experience of playing in the PGA Tour and for me, it was probably the fact that I lost my card in 2016 and I knew that I deserved that. I wasn’t unlucky, I didn’t play well that season at all. That taught me a lot.’
‘It meant that in my season back on the Web.com Tour, I had to really show that I deserved to be back in the PGA. I felt like I played really well in 2017 and although I didn’t win an event, I did finish 2nd on three occasions and I was really happy with my game and ended up third on the money list.’
‘I came back in the PGA Tour and had five top 10 finishes over the season. I was also fortunate to be playing alongside so many of the top players in events and I have learned so much from them and tried to add to my own armoury.’
RSNG How did you come back from that initial disappointment though?
AA ‘I think the right way to approach it is gradually. Firstly, you have to accept what’s happened. It’s no use sweeping it under the carpet because you’ve got to have it out in the open – you’ve got to read into it and learn from the experience.’
‘For me, that was about going back and isolating where each part went wrong, why I didn’t respond in the way I had hoped, how certain situations were my own doing and others were circumstance.’
‘When I had wrestled with all that I knew I could start to understand the disappointment, and at that point you quickly move back into a mode where you’re going to repair damage and, beyond that, actually come back stronger.’
‘There is no greater incentive to win something back than when you’ve had it taken away from you.’
WHAT NEXT? Want to pack on useful muscle like Bryson DeChambeau? Then read our golfing strength and fitness guide here.
Then, watch as Abraham Ancer holes out from 133 yards.