Angel Cabrera Wins Masters in Playoff
Posted By:Josh Morse - Kearney, NE Tags:
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They're dancing in the streets of Buenos Aires, and will be throwing one super-sized fiesta in Cordoba. Forty-one years after unforgettable heartache, Argentina finally has its Masters champion. Angel Cabrera, a 39-year-old whose only two professional victories in North America are now major championships, overcame a two-shot deficit with two holes to play yesterday, displaying the patience, perseverance, and clutch putting required of any winner at Augusta National Golf Club. He squeezed into a three-man playoff with a gutsy par on No. 18, smacked a tree with his second shot when they returned to 18 but survived the first playoff hole, then won the Masters with a routine par on No. 10, the second playoff hole: fairway, green, two putts.
The playoff win came against Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell after the threesome finished 72 holes at 12-under-par. It left Perry, who seemingly had the tournament in hand, out of luck in his bid to become golf's oldest major champion, and put Cabrera into an unlikely green jacket.
For Argentines, the moment also takes the sting off Roberto DeVicenzo's cruel Masters fate in 1968, when he seemed poised to join Bob Goalby in a playoff but signed an incorrect scorecard to give Goalby a one-shot win. The mistake - DeVicenzo signed a card that had his score on the 17th hole as a par, when he made birdie - has a place in Masters lore, for unfortunate reasons. Cabrera replaces that stain with unbridled joy.
A sun-splashed final round featured everything, with noise, drama, birdies, and eagles delivering the sizzle that had been lacking at the Masters the past few years. Despite being tied for the lead at the start of the round, Cabrera was overshadowed most of the day, quickly giving up the lead after he briefly seized it with a birdie on No. 3, then not making anything happen as Perry, Campbell, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson hogged the spotlight.
But when it mattered most, Cabrera was clutch. First came a birdie on 15, keeping him within two shots of the seemingly unflappable Perry, who also birdied. Next - and perhaps most importantly - came a 10-foot birdie on the 16th, after Perry had hit his tee shot 6 inches away and was on the verge of a three-shot lead with two to play. But Cabrera's putt kept the margin two.
Perry, who hadn't made a bogey in 22 holes, finally slipped on 17, hitting a poor chip and not saving his par after sending his second shot over the green. Cabrera also missed the green long but made his par putt. Perry's lead was down to one.
One hole later it was gone, and we were headed for more. Perry's drive on 18 found a bunker, his second shot went left of the green, and a 15-foot putt for victory slid by. A playoff with Campbell was now guaranteed; Cabrera, after missing the green, needed to hole a slick 4-foot par putt to join them, and he did.
"I had that putt on 18 that I've seen Tiger make, I've seen so many people make that putt. I knew exactly what it was," said Perry, who was trying to win his first major at 48. "That was probably the most disappointing putt of the day because I hit it too easy. I mean, how many chances do you have to win the Masters? "
In the playoff, Cabrera's drive on 18 went right, and when he tried to advance the ball on his second shot, it loudly drilled a tree. But in an act of tremendously good fortune his ball bounced left off the tree and into the fairway. He pitched on and made another win-or-lose putt, a 6-footer that sent he and Perry to the 10th tee for a second playoff hole; Campbell bowed out with a missed 4-footer after he bunkered his approach.
Perry then blinked again, pulling his second shot left of the 10th green and failing to get up-and-down. Game over.
Cabrera adds the Masters to the 2007 US Open he won at Oakmont, when he held off Woods and Jim Furyk by a stroke. Perry now has another major to stew over; he also lost in a playoff at the 1996 PGA.
This was Perry's to win. He began with 11 straight pars, while Woods and Mickelson were making runs at him. He birdied 15, seconds after Campbell tied him with a birdie on 16, then birdied 16 to go up by two. But bogeys on the final two holes gave Cabrera a chance, and that's all he needed.
Shingo Katayama birdied two of his last three holes, shot 68, and finished fourth, two shots out of the playoff. Mickelson was fifth, and Woods was in a group tied for sixth.
And the other members of the Masters Club, those past champions who get to attend the Champions Dinner, should be in for a treat next year with some great Argentinian food on the Tuesday evening of Masters week.
*-Angel Cabrera, 68-68-69-71--276
Kenny Perry, 68-67-70-71--276
Chad Campbell, 65-70-72-69--276
Shingo Katayama, 67-73-70-68--278
Phil Mickelson, 73-68-71-67--279
John Merrick, 68-74-72-66--280
Steve Flesch, 71-74-68-67--280
Tiger Woods, 70-72-70-68--280
Steve Stricker, 72-69-68-71--280
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