Abraham Ancer was the first Mexican player to win a World Championship golf event, in the process announcing himself on the world golf stage, despite being self-coached in his early career.
The 31-year-old says that consistency and balance have been added to an already humble and hardworking nature, and the combination has proved potent. It’s not bad for someone who only took on a swing coach six years ago…
RSNG In your early career you had no coach – how did you overcome this limitation to get onto the PGA Tour?
ABRAHAM ANCER, PGA GOLFER “Even from the very early days when my parents were just taking me to every golf tournament to play, I was driven by a desire to improve myself in any way possible.
“Having a coach is something you take for granted, but when you don’t have one you make yourself better by analysis and honesty. I would assess my swing as best I could; I would train and drive myself in the same way a coach would. I was my own coach – sometimes you just have to be.
“When I wasn’t playing I would sit down to watch the PGA or European tour events on television, and in the early days a lot of what you do is learning the game at a rapid pace - that was something I was able to do myself… good repetition of good habits.
“I think one of the things that really struck me when I did get a coach was having someone there to tell you how well you were doing. I only had myself as a judge before then, and you are never sure if you’re being totally honest with yourself!”
RSNG Do you regret not having a coach sooner?
ABRAHAM ANCER “No, I don’t tend to have any regrets. They are not healthy. But I guess the one I carry around with me is the fact my dad wasn’t able to see me actually fulfill the potential he knew I was capable of in reaching the professional game. He passed away from a heart attack in 2014, so I guess that is a regret.
“I will never forget everything he did for me and the sacrifices he and my mother made.”
Performing consistently lies in correcting a mistake as soon as it happens – if you don’t do that you prolong the error, and you give yourself a get out
RSNG What did your early success as a golfer teach you about the game and do you have any advice on how to perform consistently?
ABRAHAM ANCER “I think personally, it’s not always just about success – as in winning tournaments – but I feel like I have won at life by being able to play the game that I love, for a career. That is pretty much winning for me.
“As for how to perform consistently, for me it’s in correcting a mistake as soon as it happens. If you don’t do that you prolong the error, you fail mentally to make amends, and you give yourself something of a ‘get out’ – and by that I mean you’re accepting the error.
‘“If I can’t play a certain shot, I would rather stand there for half an hour and retake it 20 times until I’ve got it to where I want to be. Obviously, that’s not always going to be possible in the middle of a round, but most things in my life – and this is a case of perfecting habits – are about persisting to the point of getting it right, when it goes wrong.
“When I did that at a young age it gave me confidence, and confidence presented me with the belief I needed to be successful. It’s a case of good habits stimulating good energy and good performance.”
RSNG And luck?
ABRAHAM ANCER “Well hard work and a bit of luck are partners in every sportsman, we know that; but no-one got lucky without trying and investing in the way they play a sport. It’s hard work at times, unrelenting; and hard work should never be comfortable.
“Once you get used to what works and what’s needed, then you will find a level of comfort within that. Once you feel that you can push things to the next level, you can then try to open up new areas, but practise the fundamentals first – no short-cuts!”
Consistency is the one thing I want in my game – I am happy with every club in my bag so all that’s stopping me, is me
RSNG Who were the pros you looked up to when you were an amateur?
ABRAHAM ANCER “I think, just like anyone who has been playing the game in the last 25 years, Tiger Woods has been the man people look up to. He’s certainly done an amazing amount for the game of golf and is one of the superstars of sport since he won his first major at the Masters in 1997.
“When I got the opportunity to play against Tiger in the Presidents Cup in 2019, it was a very surreal moment. Maybe I got a bit too nervous and I just couldn’t produce my best, but I think even if I had, he would still have beaten me. He played like he was in his prime again and rolled back the years, haha!”
RSNG Do you want to beat your idols?
ABRAHAM ANCER “Obviously I want to win every time I go out onto the golf course and yeah, honestly, I tried everything I could to win the points for my team.
“However, if you’re losing to the greatest player of all-time; a man who, as I say, has helped to make the game so much more attractive and marketable – and for us as players to earn huge sums of money playing – that’s not so bad, is it?”
RSNG What areas of your game are you looking to improve and how are you doing that?
ABRAHAM ANCER “Consistency is the one thing I want in my game. I am happy with every club in my bag and I really feel like I wouldn’t want to swap them for any other, so all that’s stopping me, is me.
“It sounds obvious, but if you play your best stuff more of the time, the more successful you are going to be. And to be able to do that, you always need to practise hard.”
RSNG There are the guys who can play well without playing well, if that makes sense. They can get good results when their game is off?
ABRAHAM ANCER “Of course, there are players who are able to scramble and grind things out and finish high up the leaderboard even when they’re not playing their best golf.
“Playing a hole of golf is about three, four, five shots. At some levels, making par means playing each shot to the best of your ability. For other guys, making a bad tee shot can be repaired on the second or third.
“At the very peak, it could be two poor shots and a saving putt will rescue it for a golfer; so when you say guys can score well without playing well, it just means their natural level is so much higher, and even the margin of error on the poor shots is small. That’s the level we all aspire to be at – few get there, haha!”