Cabrera a Picture of Green

2007 U.S. Open champion wins Masters in playoff


April 12, 2009

By David Shefter, USGA

Angel Cabrera, shown with the 2007 U.S. Open trophy, became the first player from Argentina to win the Masters. (John Mummert/USGA)
Not long after winning the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club to become the first player from Argentina to win that prestigious championship, fellow countryman Roberto De Vicenzo gave Angel Cabrera a picture of a green jacket, telling him that he had the game to win a Masters title.

Forty-one years ago, De Vicenzo committed one of the greatest gaffes in major championship history when he signed for an incorrect score, thus giving the 1968 Masters to Bob Goalby instead of going to an 18-hole playoff.

For nearly four decades, South America waited for someone to slip on a green jacket. The moment finally came Sunday at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club when the 39-year-old Cabrera survived a two-hole playoff against Kenny Perry. Chad Campbell also was involved in the sudden-death playoff, but bowed out with a bogey-5 on the first extra hole (No. 18).

"This is a great moment, the dream of any golfer to win the Masters," said Cabrera through an interpreter during the green jacket ceremony. "I'm so emotional I can barely talk."

Cabrera, who learned the game as a young caddie in Cordoba , joins Tiger Woods as the only two active PGA Tour golfers with a Masters and U.S. Open title on their résumé.  Others to win both crowns in their career include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson, Gene Sarazen, Billy Casper, Cary Middlecoff, Ralph Guldahl, Craig Wood, Fuzzy Zoeller and Raymond Floyd.

Hogan, Nicklaus and Cabrera are also the only three Masters champions to have claimed a U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Late Sunday, it appeared Cabrera and Campbell were going to fall a shot short, as the 48-year-old Perry had positioned himself to become the oldest major champion in history with a tap-in birdie at the par-3 16th hole. But Perry, who owned a two-stroke lead through 70 holes, misplayed a pitch shot at the par-4 17th that lead to a bogey. He then knocked his approach shot at 18 from a fairway bunker left of the green. His 20-foot par putt fell just off to the left, leaving the door open.

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Campbell, playing in the penultimate pairing, made pars at 17 and 18, while Cabrera, who had birdied the par-5 15th and the par-3 16th, got up and down for par from behind the green at 17 and registered another par-save at 18.

"You know, it not easy out there trying to win," said Campbell.

In the playoff, Cabrera, who was affectionately given the nickname of "El Pato (The Duck)" from countryman and reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Eduardo Romero, knocked hit his tee shot on 18 into the trees right of the fairway. His recovery attempt got a fortuitous bounce off a tree stump back into the fairway and he executed a perfect third shot to within 8 feet of the hole.

Perry and Campbell both found the fairway off the tee, but each missed the green; Campbell in a greenside bunker and Perry just short and right. Perry nearly holed his chip shot and tapped in for par, but Campbell's third went 5 feet past the flagstick. He lipped out his par putt just after Cabrera converted his to send the playoff to the 10th hole.

Both players found the fairway off the tee, but Perry continued his late-round struggles with his irons, missing left, leaving him a treacherous recovery. He failed on a downhill 15-foot par putt. Cabrera, meanwhile, found the front-left portion of the green and managed to easily two-putt from 15 feet, tapping in an 18-inch putt to seal the victory.

"I may never get this opportunity ever again, but I had a lot of fun being in there," Perry told The Associated Press. "I had the tournament to win. I lost the tournament. But Angel hung in there. I was proud of him."

Perry, who carded a 1-under-par 71, went 22 holes without a bogey until No. 17. Cabrera, who shared the 54-hole lead with Perry and was paired in the final round with the Kentucky native, also shot 71.

Phil Mickelson and nine-time USGA champion Tiger Woods provided the early roars on Sunday, although both began the final round seven strokes behind the leaders. Grouped for only the second time at the Masters, Mickelson carded a first-nine 30, while Woods, playing his first major since his dramatic triumph on a wounded left knee in the U.S. Open last June at Torrey Pines, made an eagle at No. 8 to shoot a 33. But Mickelson found the water at No. 12 and made a double-bogey 5 and missed a 4-foot eagle putt at No. 15. He shot a 67 and finished three shots out of the playoff at 9-under 279. Woods birdied 13, 15 and 16, but made bogey-5s at 17 and 18 and finished at 8-under 280.

David Shefter is aUSGA Digital Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.
  





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