Cabrera takes Green Jacket

2009-04-13 05:49
I look good in green! (AFP)

Augusta - Argentina's Angel Cabrera won his second major championship with a nerve-jangling playoff victory at the U.S. Masters on Sunday, becoming the first South American to claim the prized Green Jacket.

The 2007 U.S. Open champion edged out Americans Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell at Augusta National as he clinched his second PGA Tour title with a par four at the second extra hole. After hitting his approach to 12 feet at the 10th, the 39-year-old Cabrera calmly two-putted before raising his right arm in celebration.

Perry, 48, bidding to become golf's oldest major winner, overshot the green with his approach at the 10th and was unable to save par after chipping back 18 feet past the cup. Campbell, like Perry seeking his first major triumph, dropped out when he bogeyed the first extra hole after hitting his approach into a bunker at the par-four 18th.

"This moment, and also Oakmont, are the happiest moments of my life," Cabrera said before being helped into his Green Jacket by 2008 champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa.

"It's the dream of any golfer to win the Masters. I'm so emotional I can barely talk. When I won the U.S. Open, (compatriot) Roberto De Vicenzo gave me a nice picture and there was a green jacket in it, making me go for it," added Cabrera through an interpreter.

De Vicenzo came close to Masters glory in 1968 only to submit an incorrect scorecard, giving American Bob Goalby a one-shot victory instead of sending the year's first major to a playoff. However, De Vicenzo had already become the first South American to win a major in the 1967 British Open at Hoylake.

On a sun-soaked day at Augusta, Cabrera signed off with a 71 for a 12-under total of 276, finishing level with Campbell (69) and Perry, who appeared to have the title within his grasp before bogeying 17 and 18 for a 71.

Japan's Shingo Katayama (68) birdied two of the last three holes to finish fourth at 10 under, a stroke ahead of twice former champion Phil Mickelson who covered the front nine in a record-equalling six-under-par 30 en route to a 67.

World number one and four-times winner Tiger Woods had to settle for a share of sixth place at eight under after bogeying the last two holes for a 68.

One of the longest hitters in the game, Cabrera held a share of the third-round lead with Perry and briefly edged a stroke in front by sinking a three-foot birdie putt at the par-four third. His progress then stalled with bogeys at the fourth, fifth and 10th before he rallied over the last eight holes.

Much of the interest on a glorious spring afternoon was focused on the high-profile pairing of Mickelson and Woods as they treated a huge gallery to a dazzling display of shot-making in low-scoring conditions. The heavyweight duo began the day seven strokes off the pace and Mickelson set the tone with a sizzling burst of six birdies in seven holes from the second. His front nine matched the Masters record set by Johnny Miller in the third round in 1975 and equalled by Greg Norman (final round, 1988) and KJ Choi (second round, 2004).

The drama heightened when Mickelson double-bogeyed the par-three 12th after finding the water of Rae's Creek off the tee. He immediately recovered with another birdie at the 13th, narrowly missed a 15-footer on 14 and surprisingly two-putted from four feet to birdie 15 and get to 10 under.

Woods, who had covered the front nine in 33, birdied 13, 15 and 16 where his tee shot ended five feet from the pin, to stay on track for a 15th major title. However, the two Americans signed off with matching bogeys on 18, Mickelson after driving into a fairway bunker and Woods after missing the fairway to the right and hitting a tree with his second shot.

"When Tiger and Phil were making a move I had to make a move as well," said Cabrera who clawed his way back into contention with birdies on 13, 15 and 16.


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