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Abraham Ancer beats Cameron Smith, Paul Casey in playoff to win LIV Golf tournament in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Abraham Ancer regained just enough of the composure that helped him pull out to a five-stroke lead after two rounds to beat Cameron Smith and Paul Casey in a playoff and win the inaugural LIV Golf tournament in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Ancer's comfortable lead at the start of the final round gradually disappeared with the Mexican struggling to keep pace with the chasing pack after a 2-over round of 72 at the Hong Kong Golf Club course.

Casey's 6-under 64 final round, which led his Crushers GC to the team title, pulled him even with Ancer while Smith shot 4 under to secure a place in the playoff with the trio finishing at 13 under for the tournament.

With heavy rain falling, Ancer rediscovered his touch to find the fairway with his opening drive of the first playoff hole on the 18th while Casey and Smith pushed theirs right and left, respectively. His spectacular approach shot set up a short birdie putt that he converted while Casey and Smith both finished with bogeys.

“I made that so hard on myself,” said Ancer. “The ball striking wasn't there but mentally I was really strong so I felt really good, I felt like I was not going to give up.

“That round could have gone south really quickly and hit some good bunker shots, some good putts that I needed to and just get myself in it and hit the right shot at the right time there in the playoff.”

Joaquin Niemann, who won the Jeddah tournament in Saudi Arabia last week for his second LIV victory in three starts, finished a stroke back of the playoff group after a sparkling 7 under in his final round.

The Hong Kong tournament is the second of three LIV Golf events that are part of the Asian swing, with the third in early May in Singapore. The week before Singapore, the LIV series will be in the Pacific region with a second consecutive tournament at The Grange in Adelaide, Australia from April 26-28.

Next up on the LIV tour will be Miami from April 5-7.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf