MEMPHIS — When Abraham Ancer glanced at the leaderboard midway through his final round of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational, it was hard to imagine he'd be celebrating his first PGA Tour victory in a few hours.
Harris English, who had led by two strokes after each of the first three rounds at TPC Southwind, was on top at 20 under. Ancer, playing the 10th hole, was five strokes back. He recalled telling his caddie: "Harris is running away with it. I've got to make some birdies; I've got to make a move."
The 30-year-old Mexican player didn't run off a string of birdies, but he played steady, bogey-free golf and won his first title in his 121st start on golf's top circuit, beating Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns with a six-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff in the World Golf Championships event after Burns' 5 1/2-foot putt — on the same line as Ancer's — lipped out.
"This is surreal," said Ancer, a former University of Oklahoma player who was born in McAllen, Texas. "I felt I left so many shots out there on the back nine, but you never know."
English, the 32-year-old former Baylor School and University of Georgia standout shooting for his third win of the year, faltered on the back nine to give Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama a chance. English had double bogeys on the par-3 11th and 14th holes and a bogey on the par-5 16th, and he went to the 18th needing a birdie to get into the playoff but had to settle for a par and a 73 after missing a 13-footer.
Both of his wins this year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January and the Travelers Championship in June, came via playoff.
"I played good on the front nine and just kind of hit a road bump on 11," he said. "I got the wind (reading) wrong, and it kind of went downhill from there."
Ancer (68), Burns (64) and Matsuyama (63) finished regulation at 16-under 264.
"It was a dream come true to win on the PGA Tour," said Ancer, who did so as part of a field that included 48 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
On the first extra hole, Ancer, Burns and Matsuyama, coming off a bronze-medal playoff loss in the Tokyo Olympics, made decent runs at birdies. Matsuyama had the shortest attempt — from 20 feet — and it nearly went in the cup before lipping out.
"It's tough to lose in a playoff," Matsuyama said. "but I wasn't able to hit the fairway with either tee shot (in the playoff). I did my best.
Ancer, who finished second at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, played more aggressively on the second extra trip down the par-4 18th.
"I went right at it and the shot played perfectly in my mind, and it came out just how I pictured it," said Ancer, who made only one birdie on the back nine.
"It was definitely a surprise to win," Ancer said. "I couldn't believe I was tied for the lead on (No. 16). I thought I was four behind. But you never know in golf."
Bryson DeChambeau, two strokes behind English after a third-round 63, had a 74 to tie for eighth at 12 under.
Breakthrough at Barracuda
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Erik van Rooyen won the Barracuda Championship for his first PGA Tour title, finishing with 50 points in the modified Stableford scoring system.
Van Rooyen, the 31-year-old former University of Minnesota player from South Africa, eagled the par-4 eighth and closed with a birdie on the par-4 18th for a five-point victory over Andrew Putnam at Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood Course.
Players receive eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie and zero for a par. A point is subtracted for a bogey, and three points are taken away for a double bogey or worse.
Van Rooyen had a 16-point final round, making the eagle, six birdies and a bogey.
Putnam scored 11 points on the first four holes with an eagle on the par-5 second and three birdies, then had two birdies and a bogey on the final 14 holes. He won the 2018 event for his lone PGA Tour title.
Scott Piercy was third with 44 points after an 11-point day. Third-round leader Adam Schenk had a five-point round to finish with 43, alone in fourth and two ahead of Brandon Hagy.
Former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfer Stephan Jaeger finished 42nd with 25 points. He was second after a 14-point first round highlighted by two eagles, following that with rounds of three, six and two points.
Van Rooyen jumped from 139th to 78th in the season-long FedEx Cup standings, with the top 125 after the Wyndham Championship next weekend earning spots in the PGA Tour's playoff opener. He earned a spot in the PGA Championship next year but not the Masters because the event was being played opposite a World Golf Championship.
Putnam went from 104th to 75th, Piercy 144th to 126th and Schenk 113 to 95th.
Jaeger is not currently a regular on the PGA Tour, but as the leading player on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour, he is just weeks away from starting another stint on the top circuit.