Spotlight on: Abraham Ancer in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

A winner of a World Golf Championship title earlier this season, Ancer is now looking to become the first Mexican winner of the PGA Tour’s annual visit south of the border.

Sometimes a home-coming doesn't quite work out for a golfer.

Perhaps the most chaotic example of this was the 2016 Women's Open which headed to Charley Hull's home club of Woburn.

In theory, it was perfect: the host nation's best player, backed by the tournament sponsor, playing in her backyard.

Unfortunately, the tournament committee elected to play her third favourite course at the club and they doubled down on the error by setting it up shorter than she had played it since she was 12. Her local knowledge, therefore, simply didn't exist!

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This week's home hero in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba has no such problems.

Mexico's Abraham Ancer is not a member at El Camaleon, but he likes the test.

"It's definitely one of my favourite weeks of the year," he said 12 months ago.

"Mayakoba is a place that I really, really like. I love the golf course, love playing here, love the food, love the place.

"I could hang out here every single day and not ever get bored. It's always a pleasure to come here and play in front of my people. I'm really excited."

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No is it just the vibes that he likes. El Camaleon sets the question and Abraham - who ranks second for fairways hit this season and was fifth in 2020/21 - has the Ancer.

"You've got to hit it really good off the tee here," he said. "The rough can be tricky so it's even more key to be in the fairway.

"But just keeping it out of the hazards is one of the main things out here. If you're in the fairway, you're going to have a good chance to score."

His case sounds like a strong one. Let's take a closer look.

Ancer at El Camaleon

His first visit, six years ago when still a little raw at the top level, produced a missed cut, but a year later he dropped a big hint about his future prospects by opening the week 65-68 to lie tied fourth at halfway before drifting to T55th at the weekend.

In 2017 he travelled in the opposite direction, sneaking into the weekend before a 65-68 finish earned him tied ninth. It was the start of a run of four top 25 finishes on the course.

He was T21st in 2018 (tied eighth with 18 holes to play), tied eighth in 2019, and T12th after a slow start 12 months ago.

He tends to hit plenty of fairways on the course (always top 20 for Driving Accuracy when he makes the cut), sometimes he takes advantage (twice top five for Greens in Regulation but twice outside the top 20), has ranked top five for Scrambling the last three years, but only once ranked top 30 for Putting Average.

Ancer on home soil

Elsewhere in Mexico he missed a cut and finished T13th at El Bosque on the Korn Ferry Tour and finished T52nd, T39th and T12th at Chapultepec.

Both courses are inland, however, so have limited value as guides.

Ancer on similar tracks

There are a handful of courses that have proved to be good guides to results at El Camaleon.

Ancer has struggled at Waialae in Hawaii (four starts, yet to land a top 25), ditto Sea Island (one missed cut), but has fared better at Harbour Town.

He missed the cut in his first start there, but was second in 2020 and T18th this year.

Ancer's form

He's enjoyed a wonderful 12 months.

This time last year he contended in the Masters and then ended the year with T12th in this event.

His consistency ran on into 2021 and, in all, he has missed just five cuts in the 28 starts.

More importantly, 20 of those efforts reaped top 30s, 17 of them top 20s, seven were top 10s and, most pleasingly, there was a first PGA Tour victory in the St Jude Invitational.

He's landed three top 20s in his last four starts. None was a top 10, but he was inside the top six with 18 holes to play. He's hungry for another win.

Ancer on Paspalum

This week's golf takes place on Seashore Paspalum, a grass that can be watered straight from the ocean. It's a grainy grass a lot like Bermuda.

In addition to that excellent record at El Camaleon, he's finished T41st and T13th at Corales Puntacana, missed a cut in Puerto Rico, and logged tied eighth in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in May.

Ancer in the outright

He's obviously got a great chance to land the first home win in this tournament.

His course form is excellent, that Kiawah effort looks good, he's now a winner, and he's regularly getting into contention.

However, the bookmakers know this and his price doesn't have a lot of value in it.

Ancer in the first round

In his 22 laps of El Camaleon he has proved his ability to go low by five times signing for a 65.

Two of those came in the first round, landing him a place payout both times. On a third occasion, a 66 left him just one shot out the top six.

He also splashed the birdies on Paspalum earlier this year, confirming that top 10 at Kiawah Island with a final round 65 that was the low score of the day by two full strokes.

And in his first trip to Corales Puntacana he was tied second after 18 holes.

Ancer in a matchbet

PlanetSportBet have lined Ancer up against the defending champion Viktor Hovland in a matchbet.

Over the course of their careers the Norwegian leads the head-to-head count (when they play the same tournament) by the narrow margin of 20-19.

Since the start of 2020 it's very similar at 16-14 and it is 9-9 in 2021 alone.

At El Camaleon the count is 2-1 in Ancer's favour with the big caveat that Hovland grabbed the win last year.

Those confident of the Mexican's chances might note that in all starts on blustery tracks by the sea with grainy greens he leads 5-1.

Conclusion

The historical margins of the match-up, plus Hovland's win on the course, make that a tricky one to call.

And Ancer looks a little short in the outright.

But his ability to go low on Paspaplum, plus the fact that his penultimate round in competition was an excellent, second low-score of the day 62 in THE CJ CUP, means he looks the best bet in the first round leader market.

READ MORE: Punter's pointers: A strong field at this week's World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

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