Abraham Ancer’s rookie season was an eye-opener for him.
Ancer started 2016 with nine consecutive missed cuts, added four more during the year and finished the season 190th on the points list, losing his playing card.
When he returned in 2018, he was a different player and has continued to improved every season. He picked up his first win this year at a World Golf Championship event in Memphis, had nine top-10 finishes and climbed to No. 11 in the world rankings.
After a 63 on Saturday in the CJ Cup at The Summit Club, he’ll play in the final group in search of another win. All of this success, he said, is a result of becoming comfortable around the best players in the world.
“When I first got on Tour, I was super intimidated,” said Ancer, who trails leader Rickie Fowler by three strokes. “When I first got into a big event or major, I didn’t feel like I belonged, and at the beginning, it definitely took some time for me to feel just kind of calm.”
He was calm enough Saturday to go toe-to-toe with Rory McIlroy, as the two combined to go 19 under for the day.
“I know that my game is good enough,” Ancer said. “I’ve just got to stick to what I do and see what happens at the end.”
Victory or bust
Unheralded Seonghyeon Kim is fighting for the CJ Cup title and the rewards that come with it, including full-time status on the PGA Tour through the end of the 2023 season.
Anything short of victory for the 23-year-old, and he’ll spend next week in New Mexico at the second stage of qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour.
Since changes in qualifying instituted a few years back, the Korn Ferry Tour is the path most players have to take to reach the PGA Tour. And even though Kim won the 2020 Korean PGA Championship and 2021 Japan PGA Championship, he has no status in the United States and must start at the beginning.
Next week, Kim will battle 72 golfers playing for 19 spots to advance to Q-School finals in Georgia in November.
Harry Higgs was shocked to learn of Kim’s situation.
“Boom. There you go,” Higgs said. “There’s a guy who’s going to the second stage of Q-School who’s playing in the final group here on Saturday. That’s how deep pro golf is.”
— Keith Mitchell lit up the first two rounds at 18 under while playing with Ian Poulter before stumbling Saturday. Maybe the mojo will return Sunday, as Mitchell again will be grouped with the Englishman.
— First-round leader Robert Streb, who set a course record with a 61, got back into the mix Saturday with a 65 to sit three behind.
— Playing in the final group Saturday, Jordan Spieth spun his wheels, making one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars to tumble into a tie for 17th.
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.