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Ancer wraps up wire-to-wire Saudi International success

Abraham Ancer celebrates with the trophy after his fourth professional win in the Saudi International
— King Abdullah Economic City (Saudi Arabia) (AFP)

Mexico's Abraham Ancer held off American Cameron Yong to secure a wire-to-wire win in the Saudi International on Sunday.

Since topping the leaderboard after Thursday's opening round Ancer's rock-solid game withstood Young's challenge and at times tough, windy conditions.

His closing two-under-par 68 left him with a 19-under par total of 261, two shots clear of Young.

As well as Young played, Ancer remarkably made just two bogeys on his way to a fourth professional win, all achieved in different countries.

Australian Lucas Herbert was third at 15-under par, with Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana one shot away in fourth.

Young made four birdies in his first seven holes to catch up with Ancer, who started with birdies on the first and fourth.

The Mexican then made a brilliant par save on the seventh to stay level, and then scripted a two-shot swing on the eighth hole when he dropped a 30-footer birdie putt against a bogey by his rival.

Young, who now has five second-place finishes in the past year, kept battling before finally handing the consistent Ancer some breathing space with a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Ancer, who is expected to rise to No27 in the world ranking next week, revealed one of the keys to his success was a mind game he played in his head.

"I just kept telling myself that I was in 20th place. I didn’t really look at the leaderboard that much.

"I feel like if you're just thinking 'I've just got to hold on', then it’s probably not going to be a good result.

"I kept telling myself, you’ve got to hit the shots and you can’t play it safe. I’ve got to play just the same as I’ve been playing, try to make some birdies and attack the golf course," the 31-year-old recounted.

He added: "It's the first time that I’ve been able to win wire-to-wire, so that was a lot of fun, and so was being able to play good golf every single day".

A disappointed Young reflected: "I really thought I played pretty well. I’m playing a bunch of tournaments the next few weeks, so I think I’m just in a nice place moving forward."

The 25-year-old, the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2022 after four second place and three third place finishes, added: "Abe played some really nice golf.

"He just didn’t make any mistakes, I think maybe made two bogeys this whole week. And with the wind blowing, and as hard as it was, that shows tremendous control of your golf ball, and a lot of mental toughness."

Young, who lost out on last year's British Open to a brilliant finish by Cameron Smith, said he felt those performances were "proof that I can win anywhere".

Ancer was adding this tournament to wins at the 2021 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in the United Staters, the 2018 Emirates Australian Open, and the 2015 Nova Scotia Open in Canada.

The Asian Tour next moves to Oman and Qatar for two International Series events.

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