JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The FedEx Cup points system takes its fair share of ribbing on social media, but for the pros actually jockeying for position in the standings, it's no laughing matter. Just ask Abraham Ancer, who entered the Northern Trust at 67th, needing a good result to keep from falling outside the top 70 and failing to make it to the second playoff event, the BMW Championship.
After his solo second finish on Sunday at Liberty National, not only is Ancer heading to the BMW, but he's all but locked up a spot in the Tour Championship, which also would earn him an invitation to his first Masters. In addition, he's now at 10th in the Presidents Cup standings as the native of Mexico looks to make his first International Team.
It was obvious that none of this was on Ancer's mind on the 72nd green at Liberty National, where he faced a 42-foot birdie putt that would have tied him for the lead with eventual winner Patrick Reed. Cozy it up there, take your par and lock up second … or go for the win? There was only one option for Ancer, who hammered the birdie attempt and watched it race seven feet past, leaving him with a testy, left-to-right downhill look that even the best players in the world fear.
Ancer calmly holed it, giving him the best finish of his career and getting him enough points to rise to eighth on the FedEx Cup points list. Had he missed the comebacker for par, he would have tied for second with Jon Rahm and Harold Varner III, meaning the points for the second, third and fourth-place finishers would be evenly distributed among the three of them. Instead of the 1,200 he did earn, he would have gotten 833—a difference of 367 points that would have dropped Ancer to 16th instead of eighth. Still a good spot, but not as safe as being inside the top 10.
It wasn't until he saw the birdie putt zip past the hole that he allowed any of that to enter his mind, and that's when he had a similar reaction to many weekend hackers who blast putts almost 10 feet past the hole. The only difference? There was a little more at stake for Ancer.
"After I hit it and saw it roll by, I don't know how far it was, six, seven feet or so, I was like, man, that was kind of dumb," said Ancer, laughing. "But gathered myself; took my time. I had a good read with my caddie and put a good stroke on it and it went in the center."
If that sigh of relief didn't feel good enough, Ancer likely took an even bigger sigh when he actually heard what that putt meant.
"I had no idea if I finished solo second that [I'd be in the Tour Championship]. I obviously wanted to finish first and obviously would have locked it in, but it's really pleasing to know that with the work that I put in today and this week, and all year, really paid off in a way, still without getting the W but yeah, I'm extremely happy with all those boxes that I checked off and can't wait for that, playing my first Masters, I guess there's also all the WGCs. Making it into the Tour Championship is huge."
It's more than huge for Ancer, who last year played in the final group at the Dell Technologies Championship and stumbled to a two-over 73 in the final round, dropping him into a tie for seventh. He made four bogeys on the back nine, which wound up being the difference between T-7 and... you guessed it, solo second.