/How Abraham Ancer, with no coach, made it to the PGA Tour from a tiny town in Mexico | Golf News and Tour Information | Golf Digest

How Abraham Ancer, with no coach, made it to the PGA Tour from a tiny town in Mexico | Golf News and Tour Information | Golf Digest

I was born in McAllen, Texas, but I grew up in Reynosa, Mexico, a small border city in the northeast part of the country. Watching the PGA Tour growing up, it looked pretty impossible to reach. Competing professionally was always a dream of mine since I was a little kid. But it was always like, Man, there’s absolutely nobody who has ever made it to the tour from Reynosa.

I moved from Reynosa to Mission, Texas for high school when I was 15. We thought getting experience playing in the United States would make it easier to transition to college. Because I was born in Texas, I had dual citizenship. My mom, Veronica, and one of my sisters moved with me to Mission, but my other sister stayed in Reynosa with her husband, and my dad traveled back and forth. He owned a security company.

I loved Odessa. It’s a tiny little place in Texas. The weather was pretty crazy. It would be cold, then hot, then super windy. I learned how to play in tough conditions. Thankfully, I had a really good year. I won six individual events and received the Jack Nicklaus Award for junior college player of the year. I got offers from D-1 schools right away. Oklahoma University was the first to approach me. I really liked the vibe from the coaches. I went to visit and was sold.

I made it to the PGA Tour too quickly. I went through Q school, got status on the Korn Ferry Tour and earned my card in 2015. I thought I was ready, but I wasn’t. At my first tournament, the Safeway Open, Rory McIlroy set up next to me at the range. I was hitting 5-irons, and he starts hitting those balls that take off straight up and go for a mile. I thought, I don’t have that in the bag. I started trying to hit it higher and harder, and it messed me up. I messed around with equipment and missed a bunch of cuts. Mentally, I was super down.

In reality I didn’t have to change anything. I just had to play my game. I’m not built like some of the other guys out here, but I rely on my accurate iron play and creative short game. I played better at the end of the season, but it wasn’t enough. I went back to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017. I finished in the top three on the money list and got my card back.

Representing my country in the 2019 President’s Cup was one of the coolest weeks. Experiencing that much pressure and excitement was amazing. Playing against Tiger on Sunday was the most nervous I’ve ever felt. He played like vintage Tiger. I gave it my best shot, but I came up short. He was my idol growing up, so that was pretty surreal.