Coming into the week at 92nd in the FedEx Cup standings, Mexico's Abraham Ancer was in need of a good result in the Dell Technologies Champinship just to crack the top 70 and extend his season one more week. Even if he was able to accomplish that, the 27-year-old's chances of making the Tour Championship in his second full season on the PGA Tour were pretty slim barring a breakthrough victory.
Following a third-round 65 on Sunday at TPC Boston, Ancer is now on the verge of that breakthrough at 13-under 200, good enough for a one-shot edge over Tyrrell Hatton and Bryson DeChambeau, who is coming off a victory at the Northern Trust, where Ancer missed the cut. On Monday, Ancer and DeChambeau will play alongside each other in the final group. Funny game.
"Very fine line, it's a goofy game," said Ancer, whose 65 included a front-nine 30. "Last week, I felt like I hit the ball really good, I just really didn't make anything. I hit a lot of good putts I thought would go in but they didn't, but it's a very fine line from being right there fighting for the cut and fighting for winning the tournament."
This is the second time this season Ancer has snuck up on golf fans and been in the mix through 54 holes. The other came in July at the Quicken Loans National, where Ancer shot an impressive third-round 62 but followed it up with a final-round 72 to finish in a tie for fourth, 10 strokes back of winner Francesco Molinari. Ancer played alongside Molinari that Sunday outside Washington D.C., and hopes to emulate what he did that final round when the eventual Open champion posted a 62 to win by eight.
"Definitely playing with Francesco at Quicken Loans, we were in the last group and he ended up playing an awesome round, flawless, completely," Ancer said of what experiences he'll lean on at TPC Boston. "I'm just going to draw back on that, see what I did wrong and what I did good and just focus on that, have a good time and play some good golf tomorrow. It should be fun."
If he goes on to win Ancer will make by far the biggest leap of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, moving all the way from his 92nd spot to fifth in the standings heading into the BMW Championship. It won't be easy as he'll have to hold off DeChambeau, who carded an eight-under 63 that included a birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie-eagle finish.
"It's never bad to shoot four under your last three holes," DeChambeau said. "A little frustrated about 15. Hit a really good putt, a fraction too hard, made a 360 lip on me. That's golf. It's going to happen. But I was able to respond well. I think that's the important thing."
DeChambeau's career-low 63 is his second 63 in the last eight days, both coming in the third rounds at Ridgewood and TPC Boston.
Ancer will also have to fend off Hatton, who is looking to make a similar jump in the standings after starting the week just outside the top 70 at 71st. The Englishman has shot rounds of 69, 63 and 69 to put himself in a tie for second with DeChambeau at 12-under 201.
Justin Rose was unable to get much going on Sunday, but still lurks just two back at 11-under 202 after a third-round 70. He's tied for fourth with Australia's Cameron Smith, who shot a bogey-free 67. Smith, who began the playoffs at 53rd in the standings, is currently projected inside the top 10. Like Ancer, the 25-year-old is looking to make his first tour championship.
Emiliano Grillo and Kyle Stanley are at 10-under 203, while Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Beau Hossler are tied for eighth at nine-under 204. Tiger Woods is six back at seven-under 206 after a third-round 68.