The massive crowd following Tiger Woods on Saturday at TPC Potomac were treated to a few impressive moments, like his streak of four consecutive birdies on the front nine. Meanwhile, in the group just ahead, the little-known Abraham Ancer was putting together the most impressive round of the week.
After going out in four-under 31, Ancer backed it up with another 31 on the home nine, giving him a tournament course-record 62, the lowest round of his career on the US PGA Tour. Through 54 holes of the Quicken Loans National, Ancer finds himself tied for the lead with Francesco Molinari at 13-under 197, a position he had yet to be in during any of his first 42 career starts on tour.
“It feels great, I played awesome today,” said Ancer, who hit 12 of his 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens and needed just 25 putts.”I didn’t really make any mistakes, played really solid, kept the ball in front of me, hit a lot of greens and made some putts. Feels good.”
Ancer, who was born in Texas but is of Mexican descent, does have professional winning experience, including one Webcom Tour victory which came at the 2015 Nova Scotia Open. This season, his second on tour, he’s made 14 of 22 cuts and collected two top 10s and five top 25s.
On Sunday, he’ll play alongside Molinari, who is also in search of his first PGA Tour win as well as his first top 10 this season. That’s part of the reason the Italian is making an appearance in D.C. this week as opposed to the French Open, which is being held at Le Golf National, site of this year’s Ryder Cup, an event Molinari will almost definitely be playing in.
“It wasn’t easy to skip France for me, it’s one of my favourite tournaments and a course where I’ve done well in the past,” said Molinari, who fired a five-under 65 on Sunday. “But it’s just the way I’ve played this year. Obviously, winning at Wentworth and playing well in Italy and not doing so well over here [in America] in the first part of the season. I just needed some FedEx points and so far, so good.”
Despite being a staple on the leaderboard in many of his 120 career starts on tour, Molinari is still looking for that breakthrough. He’s had no trouble on the European Tour, though, winning five times, including this year’s BMW PGA Championship.
“It’s always going to be a little bit harder for Europeans to win over here,” he said. “We’re not used to the courses. Generally when we come over here first it takes a little bit of time to get used to it.
“The other thing, I think everyone plays more aggressively over here, so you just need to keep your foot on the gas and keep going and make as many birdies as possible.”
Two back is Zac Blair, another player looking for his first PGA Tour win. Entering the week, Blair had made just six of his 13 cuts, finishing no higher than T-18 last year at the Sanderson Farms Championship. This week he’s carded rounds of 67, 66 and 66 to get to 11-under 199, which has him in a tie for third with Ryan Armour.
First-round leader Andrew Landry is at 10-under 200, while Kevin Streelman is alone in sixth at nine-under 201. Streelman followed his course-record 62 on Friday with a three-under 67 in the third round. Landry recovered from a second-round 72 with a five-under 65 to get back into contention.
Despite some shaky play, Beau Hossler is still lurking at eight-under 202 thanks to a birdie at his final hole, capping off a back-nine 38 that included four bogeys. Tiger Woods is at seven-under 203 following his “frustrating” third-round 68.
Australia’s Marc Leishman, who shot 69, is also at seven-under par and six strokes back. Cameron Percy, the other Australian to make the weekend, is three under.