Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

From Down Under

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

From Down Under

Article excerpt

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Under darkening skies and growing tension, Angel Cabrera lost the Masters on Sunday evening, lost a second playoff hole when two almost-perfect playoff shots were bested by Adam Scott's one just-perfect putt, lost a chance for a second green jacket because a kid from Australia won his nation's first.

Angel Cabrera lost the Masters on Sunday evening, but proved himself a champion of class, proved that sports is truly at its best when it shows us not only how to celebrate victory, but how to handle defeat. Scott had barely emptied his lungs with the primal scream of an entire continent, barely finished the championship pose of two raised fists, barely stopped the full-body shaking as the weight of what he had just accomplished set in, when he turned to find Cabrera by his side.

Arm-in-arm, they walked off that decisive 10th green, one winner in the game of golf, two winners in the game of life.

"I told him that I was happy for him, that I know that he deserved it, and that he was going to eventually win it like he did right now," Cabrera said. "It was just a matter of time."

By the time Cabrera had finished his post-playoff interview session and was ready to exit out a side door of the Augusta media center, Scott's golf cart was pulling up, delivering Scott to his own victorious rehash session. The two men intersected once again in the holding area, and just as he had done after Scott's perfect approach on the final hole, the one that set up the winning putt, Cabrera flashed a hearty thumbs-up to his conqueror.

"Angel is a great man," Scott would say later. "I think he's a gentleman."

The 45-year-old Cabrera was nobody's pick to contend for this tournament, never mind be in position to win it on the final day, not when he arrived here as the 269th ranked golfer in the world, his gut hanging ever so slightly over his belt, his cigarettes tucked ever so discreetly in his pocket. But what he did across four exhilarating days, what he did by playing in Sunday's final pairing, was remind the golf world not simply that he can still play at a championship level, but he can do it with all-star levels of class and dignity.

For high-level play, Cabrera gave us an amazing approach shot on his first Sunday turn through No. 18, which he struck from the fairway only minutes after Scott, in the group just ahead of him, sent the 18th gallery into pure delirium with a clutch 25-foot birdie putt.

Like fighters trading punch-for-punch, Cabrera landed his own haymaker by depositing the ball only three feet from the cup and sinking a birdie of his own, tying Scott at 9-under par and setting up the sudden death.

With that, he turned to his caddy, his son and namesake, and shared a tight, enduring bear hug. "He said coming here something special was going to happen this year," Cabrera's coach, Charlie Epps, said. "He's healthy, his life is in order, he still has a lot of piss and vinegar in him. …

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