The premier Asian Tour event of the year took place this week at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with Abraham Ancer ultimately raising the trophy at the 2023 Saudi International. Firing rounds of 63-66-64-68, Ancer signed for 19 under total, two strokes clear of reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Cameron Young and four clear of fellow PGA Tour member Lucas Herbert.
Holding the lead after each round, the 31-year-old was momentarily caught by Young in the final round when the Bronx bomber connected on four birdies in his opening seven holes. Standing at 19 under at the time, Ancer carded a birdie-bogey finish to his outward half before nine consecutive pars coming home. With Ancer holding steady, Young pressed and found trouble, playing holes Nos. 8-15 in 3 over before a flurry of late birdies made the outcome much closer than the reality.
"That was my first wire-to-wire win," said Ancer. "I just didn't think about where I was on the leaderboard. I just felt like I just want to do that again. I played really good the first round, and I just felt like I wanted to keep that going. I kept telling myself, just imagine if I was in like 20th place and just got to go out there and shoot a low one. It worked out. I stayed in the moment. Didn't really think too much about the previous shots or what was coming after. So I'm really happy with my frame of mind during these four rounds."
Ancer's victory at the 2023 Saudi International marks his fourth professional victory and first since the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Playing primarily on LIV Golf, with the occasional appearance on the DP World Tour and Asian Tour, this triumph will include a much-needed influx of Official World Golf Rankings points. Projected to move from No. 37 to No. 26 in the rankings, Ancer will be idle until LIV Golf returns to his home country of Mexico for its season debut Feb. 24-26.
"I was really excited to get the year started," said Ancer. "There's definitely plenty of things to improve on, but this gives me a lot of confidence. Just knowing that what I've been working on back home definitely, definitely is working. Obviously the time off was huge. My body feels really good. So that's a huge plus, too."
Ancer's triumph means it was yet another close call for Young who now commands eight podium finishes since this time last year without a title to show for it. With none of those outcomes coming in the form of a late collapse or an untimely mistake down the stretch, the 25-year-old remains in a sound headspace ahead of a massive stretch on the PGA Tour playing calendar that will begin next week at the WM Phoenix Open.
"If I had to -- I feel like it's just -- I mean, I think having those finishes is just proof that I can win anywhere the more I put myself there," said Young. "I'm proud of all those finishes. There's nothing I've thrown away, I don't think. If one or two of them was a four-shot lead that I didn't finish off, that's a bummer, but I've been beat a lot. I haven't thrown any of them away."