Written by
Joy Chakravarty, LIV Golf Correspondent
Mar 11 2024
- 4 MIN
Ancer HK recap

HONG KONG – When it mattered the most, Abraham Ancer was clutch as he defeated Cameron Smith and Paul Casey in the first playoff hole to win his first career LIV Golf title and made up for a disappointing final day for his team.

The Sergio Garcia-captained Fireballs led the team championship going into the final round of LIV Golf Hong Kong at 28-under and leading by three shots over Ripper GC, but their four Sunday scores tallied for just 1-over par, which pushed them down to sixth place at 27-under.

And yet, the team was celebrating on the 18th green after 55 holes of play, cheering for Ancer’s win that came about with a most resilient display of golf. Cruising to the top of the leaderboard with rounds of 63 and 62 and looking like he’d never make any mistake, the Mexican had to battle hard in his round of 72 on the final day.

Finishing on 13-under, Ancer was caught up by Smith (66) and Casey (64) at the end of regulation play.

On the first extra hole, Ancer hit a great 5-wood down the middle of the fairway and then launched a towering 8-iron that landed softly on the famous 18th green of Hong Kong Golf Club and stopped quickly within three feet of the hole for a birdie putt. His rivals fell prey to the diabolical tee shot on the 18th, making bogies and leaving the 33-year-old to collect the trophy.

“It was definitely a grind. I made it a lot more stressful than I envisioned it. I didn’t have my best ball-striking. It was polar opposite of the first two rounds. Off the tee and my second shots weren’t quite there. But I was really happy because mentally, I dug deep. That round could have gone south very, very quickly,” said Ancer.

“I’m really proud of how I felt mentally and how I fought the whole round despite not having my best stuff. I knew it was going to be tough. There were some big-time names right behind me, and I knew there was going to be a couple of really low rounds out there. I knew I had to make some birdies coming in or have some good stuff coming in.

“Unfortunately, didn’t have any birdies coming in, but it was good enough to get in a playoff, and then I hit two good-quality golf shots there to finish it off, and it felt nice. It felt really good because that was a very stressful round.”

The biggest disappointment on Sunday was for Eugenio Chacarra, who emotionally spoke about how a conversation with a “special person” on Tuesday changed his mindset and lifted his spirits. The 23-year-old was 10-under par after the first two rounds and started the final round five shots behind Ancer in tied second place.

“I think my life changed on Tuesday. I got a big life lesson that I felt I needed to hear, and I don’t think I was going the right way. I wasn’t enjoying golf. I just wasn’t having fun playing golf,” said Chacarra after his second round.

“I think the conversation I had with a special person changed my point of view about life and helped me a lot. It’s something that will help me in the future as well – just try to go out there, and be very thankful for what I’m doing. I think there are not many people that can say they’re playing professional golf at the highest level, so just trying to enjoy the moment.”

Abraham Ancer – Champion – 63-62-72-197 (13-under)

Ancer had been trending in the right direction and it all came together in Hong Kong. The fact that he was not at his best on Sunday – both off the tee and for his approach shots – and yet managed to hold it together to get into a playoff and then win, shows the mental strength of the Mexican.

He was No. 1 in Fairways Hit and Greens in Regulation after the first two rounds, and found only eight fairways and eight greens on Sunday.

The win, and the 40 points, takes him to fifth place in the individual standings with 47.3 points.

Eugenio Chacarra – T15th – 64-66-71-201 (9-under)

The 23-year-old Spaniard accrued his first points of the season and moved to tied 38th place with three points for his tied 15th place finish. Winner of LIV Golf Thailand in 2022, Chacarra went into the final five shots behind his teammate, but could not mount the charge. The middle stretch from hole Nos. 6-13 proved costly, where he dropped four shots.

Yet, there are plenty of positives to take for Chacarra, who said he got a life lesson from a special person on Tuesday, which improved his outlook towards his golf, and towards life in general.

David Puig – T34th – 72-66-68-206 (4-under)

The young Spaniard was left disappointed because he has made it a habit to play well in Asian courses. He won the International Series Singapore for his first professional win last year and then secured his Open spot by winning the IRS Prima Malaysian Open last month.

Puig has been talking about his lack of good starts on LIV Golf, and that’s exactly what happened again. He started with a 2-over 72, which left him with too much to make up.

Puig is 31st in the individual standings with 5.08 points.

Sergio Garcia – T38th – 71-66-70-207 (3-under)

Given how well Garcia was putting in practice, he just could not take that form onto the golf course. Despite another good balls-striking week (11th in fairways hit and 18th in greens in regulation, the Fireballs Captain took 90 putts for his three rounds, and suffered because of that.

The 44-year-old, who lost in an epic playoff to Joaquin Niemann in the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba, was 11th in the Individual Standings with 32.42 points.

Field ranking in parentheses

Fairways Hit
Ancer – 32 (10)
Chacarra – 22 (T52)
Puig – 26 (T38)
Garcia – 31 (T11)

Greens in Regulation
Ancer – 42 (T13)
Chacarra – 39 (T26)
Puig – 33 (53)
Garcia – 41 (T19)

Total Putts
Ancer – 83 (T7)
Chacarra – 85 (T12)
Puig – 82 (T5)
Garcia – 90 (T39)

Total Birdies
Ancer – 16 (T4)
Chacarra – 14 (T9)
Puig – 13 (T16)
Garcia – 12 (T25)

Driving Distance Avg.
Ancer – 285.9 (47)
Chacarra – 303.8 (10)
Puig – 309.5 (6)
Garcia – 298.8 (21)