TULSA — Abraham Ancer gave Oklahoma fans what they wanted at last week’s PGA Championship: dynamic shot-making, a competitive tournament, and a colorful response to their cheerful support.
Ancer, who plays out of Mexico but was a star for the Sooners from 2010-13, had a fantastic week at Southern Hills Country Club, and although he faded from contention on Sunday, he sent an adoring crowd into a frenzy with his final shot.
“It really was special to play here in a major,” he told the Tulsa World on Sunday.
Ancer sat alone in fifth place after three rounds with a 54-hole score of 4-under par 206.
He shot a 3-over 73 on Sunday, however, with four bogeyes on the front nine.
Ancer’s highlight of the week, arguably, came on his final stroke — a 31-foot putt on No. 18 to save par. That set off a raucous “BOOMER! SOONER!” cheer from the gallery, and Ancer responded with a big smile and made an “O” and a “U” with his arms.
It was just the last of many chants Sooner Nation sent his way in Tulsa.
“I felt bad not being able to respond to every Boomer Sooner chant,” Ancer said. “But I tried to do at least half of them. It was awesome. I felt right at home. The crowds were unbelievable — super supportive.”
Ancer said he heard that familiar refrain all week. On Thursday, he said he felt the fans’ support everywhere.
“There was an average of about 8-10 ‘Boomers!’ yelling at me every single hole,” Ancer said. “So it’s nice to feel that support. You see a lot of crimson out there.”
Ancer finished in a four-way tie for ninth. On the par 70, 7,357-yard course, Ancer shot 67 on a hot Thursday, 69 on a warm and windy Friday, 70 on a cool, wet Saturday, and 73 on a windy but otherwise Sunday. Southern Hills played like a different course each day.
He said his experiences in college at OU helped him deal with the changing environs.
“Yeah, I feel like through my college career, we played in, really, anything,” Ancer said Saturday. “We played in all sorts of weather. I normally enjoy the wind. I feel like where I grew up and Odessa Junior College and then Norman was pretty windy as well. So I enjoy the wind. I think it brings in a great challenge — especially at this golf course, where you have to be very precise.”
It was Ancer’s 13th career major, but was his second-best major finish (he finished eighth at last year’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in Hawaii).
Ancer’s only birdie of the final round came on the 623-yard, par-5 fifth hole. He nearly reached the green in two but instead came up short in the front greenside bunker, another 86 feet from the cup. His bunker shot rolled past the pin, and from there he sank a 16-foot putt.
He gave it all back, however, with three straight bogeyes on Nos. 7, 8 and 9.
On the 492-yard, par-4 seventh, Ancer hit his tee shot into the right rough, then hit his second shot short of the green. He then three-putted for a 5.
On the 255-yard, par-3 eighth, Ancer’s tee shot came up short of the green, still 82 feet away from the pin. His approach shot settled 13 feet short, and then he missed a 2-footer.
And on the 396-yard, par-4 ninth, Ancer was on the green in two but left himself a 44-foot putt. His lag came up 9 feet short, and he two-putted from there for another bogey.
Ancer cleaned things up a bit on the back nine as he shot bogey-free golf — but couldn’t find another birdie.
He got off to a rough start on the 541-yard, par 4 13th, hitting his second shot 73 feet past the cup. But he got up and down with a clever shot onto the green and a 2-putt from 12 feet. He also made an 11-foot par putt on No. 16.
Tying for ninth (with Seamus Power, Brendan Steele and Tom Hoge), Ancer took home $357,812.50 of the $15 million purse, according to Golfweek.
Ancer said he spoke with OU coach Ryan Hybl and exchanged encouraging texts with him throughout the week. Hybl’s Sooners won the Norman Regional on Wednesday to make yet another trip back to the NCAA Championships.
Just being back in Oklahoma for a week, Ancer said, created a comforting environment.
“A really neat feeling, the support,” he said. “And it’s nice to see them boys win (Wednesday). It was awesome.”