News & Opinion

In this season of wishes, be careful about what you want

When Abraham Ancer asked for a matchup against Tiger Woods in the Presidents Cup, the young Mexican star got it, and then some

MELBOURNE, Australia – Many things have arisen out of the aftermath of the Americans’ having won another Presidents Cup on Sunday.

But maybe the most compelling to me is the Abraham Ancer rivalry with Tiger Woods.

OK, so I’m kidding, but many observers are taking it to heart as the lifeblood of professional golf, Twitter, buzzes with the development.

Presidents Cup 2019
Abraham Ancer got what he wanted in a singles match against Tiger Woods … until the American player-captain posted a 4-and-2 victory.

Many golf fans think that Ancer, a 28-year-old Mexican, was asking for it when he said at the recent Mayakoba Golf Classic that he would like to play against Tiger Woods in the biennial matches.

Any player worth his salt on the PGA Tour wants to play against Woods, whether it be Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson or Brooks Koepka. All have said something similar, in fact. Maybe not to have a piece of Woods, per se, but to compete against him.

The ultimate compliment paid by Ancer to Woods was first misconstrued and then blown way out of proportion.

Even Woods seemed to buy into the misperception when asked here Sunday at the victorious Americans’ news conference about Ancer.

Question: Were you aware that Abe Ancer had made some comments that he wanted …

Woods: Yes.

Question: … .to play you? (Laughter.) OK. It's clear now.

Woods: Next.

It was the only time in the week that Woods let a scowl creep across his face and that he resorted to one-word answers with the media.

For his part, Ancer addressed his comments made at Mayakoba and how he got paired with Woods.

Question: I believe you had said at Mayakoba that you wanted to face Tiger Woods on Sunday. I'm wondering, did you ask Ernie [Els, the Internationals’ captain] to try to pair you against him, and what did you learn about who Tiger Woods is as a competitor today?

Ancer: When they asked me that at Mayakoba first of all, that question was in Spanish, so the tone when I said it, it was never like cocky or challenging or anything like that. At the moment I thought it would be a great experience, which it was. No matter what, with the outcome of the match, I would have gained a lot. I would have become a better player just from being in that situation. But, no. Wwe talked about that; that's how it happened. We didn't really plan it at all.

Added Els: “We didn't plan it like that. As you remember, we had first pick, and he was playing so well. We put Abraham's name out, and Tiger actually picked Abraham.”

So, Woods actually opted to play Ancer. That is news and should negate some of the negative press about Ancer, but it likely won’t.

When Woods decided to pair up against the young Mexican, who was born in the U.S. but raised in Mexico before returning to the States to play college golf at Odessa and then Oklahoma, was it his way of teaching the youngster who was boss?

We will never know Woods’ motivation for sure. It could have been genuine and a desire to grab the first point as soon as possible.

But the bigger question is why Woods had to make his playing and ultimately defeating Ancer such a big deal.

Woods could have dealt with it using a deft touch and complimented Ancer for his ability and his potential.

Yet we know that Woods’ touch in such cases is rarely deft. Just ask Stephen Ames, who endured a 9-and-8 beatdown in the 2006 WGC Match Play after daring to question Woods’ ability with the driver.

So, Twitter will die down, and when and if the two get paired together, we will hear about the rematch.

In this digitally-charged world, we need our fix every 30 or 60 minutes. For golf fans, the discussion of a rivalry, even if one doesn’t exist, is part of our new culture and allows everybody to pile on, even if they have no clue about what they are saying.

Attribute it to an adrenaline rush, and the facts be damned.