Ancer, Ortiz part of growth of Mexican golf overall, and at Masters
Not many Mexicans have played in the Masters Tournament: four have combined for six starts before this year.
And never has more than one teed it up in the same Masters. So it is quite a thrill for the country to have two of its native sons -- Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz - among the 88 players in the field this year.
“You know, it's awesome,” Ancer said Wednesday. “I think it speaks to where Mexican golf is headed. I think it's in a good spot. Obviously we want to have more and more Mexicans and Latinos out here. Yeah, it's awesome to have my friend out here, Carlos, and going to be a lot of fun.”
Ancer, playing in his second Masters, shot 3-over-par 75 after being assessed a 2-stroke penalty for a rules violation on No. 15, while Ortiz opened with 81 in his Masters debut.
(2/4) After Mr. Ancer had signed his scorecard and exited the scoring area, video evidence was reviewed by the Committee regarding a potential breach of Rule 12.2b(1), which states that touching sand in a bunker right behind the ball results in a penalty.— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 8, 2021
“It was quite the grind,” said Ancer, who started the day 2 under through three holes. “I didn't hit it the best off the tee so I had to really dig deep and come up with some up and downs.
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“Like I said, it's playing tough, so we got to stay positive and stay really, really focused out there,” he said. “There is going to be some shots that you think you hit in a good spot and they're not going to end up in a good spot. You got to dig deep and get it up and down.”
Ancer, who was a second-round co-leader last year as a Masters rookie before finishing in a tie for 13th place, qualified for this year’s tournament by being among the 30 players to make the Tour Championship last year. He also finished among the top 50 in the season-ending world ranking, another route into the Masters.
Ortiz got into the field by winning the Houston Open on Nov. 8. He’s also in the top 50 in the world (47th).
The only other Mexican winner on the PGA Tour is Victor Regalado, who qualified in 1975 and then again for the 1979 Masters after he won the 1978 Quad Cities Open.
The other Mexicans to make the Masters were amateurs – Juan Antonio Estrada and Alvaro Ortiz. Estrada was a foreign invitee in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
Alvaro Ortiz, who is Carlos Ortiz’s younger brother, played in the 2019 Masters by virtue of winning the Latin American Amateur.
Carlos followed him around during his appearance that year, and now Alvaro is returning the favor.
“It’s a payback,” Carlos said. “I came to see him, he's coming to see me.”
Ancer said there are other talented young Mexicans in the pipeline that should make their way to the Masters.
“I feel like since Lorena (Ochoa, the former LPGA Tour star) played on tour and did so well it kind of opened our eyes and motivated us to get out here.
“Also the Mexican Federation, I think they've done a really good job bringing opportunities for kids, and now the First Tee is a big deal in Mexico which before we didn't have any First Tees,” Ancer said. “So there has been a lot of efforts in the last five years to grow the game and hopefully can keep it going.”