Cabrera tames Oakmont

Argentine wins at 5-over, edges Woods, Furyk by 1

U.S. Open

June 18, 2007|By Chris Dufresne

OAKMONT, Pa. -- Tiger Woods missed a right-to-left putt yesterday that would have forced a playoff at Oakmont Country Club, and the 107th U.S. Open unofficially became The International Open of America.

Angel Cabrera of Argentina waddled off with the championship by shooting 1-under-par 69 and finishing at 5-over 285.

That was enough, on a humid day and a treacherous track, to hold off Woods and Jim Furyk, who ended up one shot back at 286. Niclas Fasth finished fourth at 287, and David Toms and Bubba Watson finished four shots back at 289.

Cabrera joins a U.S. Open winners line behind Geoff Ogilvy (Australia, 2006), Michael Campbell (New Zealand, 2005) and Retief Goosen (South Africa, 2004).

After four rounds of a wild kingdom, survival-of-the-fittest competition, a man nicknamed Pato (the duck) beat a Tiger on a day when a bear had to be chased from the seventh fairway.

English is a second language for the 37-year-old Cabrera, but he soaked up a lot of American love as he celebrated his victory with the gallery after his win.

"I watched all the majors on TV when I was a kid, and I never thought I would be here at this moment," Cabrera said. "It is very difficult to describe this moment. Probably tomorrow when I wake up with this trophy beside my bed, I will realize that I have won the U.S. Open."

All Cabrera did to win was get in the clubhouse first at 5-over and then wait to see if two former U.S. Open winners, Woods and Furyk, could track him down.

They couldn't, and Cabrera won his first major in his 31st career try.

He became the first Argentine to win the event and only the second man from his country to win a major, joining Roberto de Vicenzo, who claimed the 1967 British Open. Unlike de Vicenzo, who lost a chance to win the 1968 Masters when he signed an incorrect scorecard, Cabrera had all his U.S. Open paperwork in order.

Cabrera was the only player this week to shoot two rounds under par.

"Angel played a beautiful round of golf," Woods said.

Cabrera, though, gave both Woods and Furyk a back-nine opening and almost frittered away the tournament by making bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17 before closing with a clutch par at No. 18.

Furyk, tied for the lead and playing one group behind Cabrera, botched his chance when he hit driver into the thick, greenside rough at No. 17 and chopped out for a bogey. Furyk made par at No. 18, but it was too late.

Last year, he made bogey at the 72nd hole at Winged Foot to finish one shot behind Ogilvy.

"No one likes consolation prizes," said Furyk, who shot even-par 70. "A second is not that much fun, to be honest with you."

Tell Woods about it.

He sought his 13th professional major title, but he couldn't find a birdie in his bag when he needed it. He managed only one birdie in his last 32 holes, on No. 4 yesterday as he finished with a 72.

Woods has won all of his 12 majors while having at least a share of the lead on Sunday, but has yet to win one from behind.

He was one shot back entering the final round of this year's Masters, seized a piece of the lead early, but then yielded the title to little-known Zach Johnson.

Two majors. Two opportunities lost.

"That's one of the things I need to go back and analyze," Woods said.

He started yesterday two shots behind leader and final-round partner Aaron Baddeley. And while Baddeley collapsed to a 10-over 80 after opening with a triple bogey and Woods briefly took a piece of the lead, the world's No. 1 player couldn't hold it.

A double-bogey 6 at the par-4 third had Woods in catch-up mode all day.

Woods, at 6-over, still had three holes left with Cabrera safely in the clubhouse at 5-over but made only pars.

It all came down, fittingly, to the mighty par-4 18th, which played the toughest all week - to an average of 4.6.

Woods needed some magic to force a playoff and thought he drilled his 3-wood off the tee only to watch it skid to a stop along the second cut of rough.

Woods used all his strength to muscle a wedge shot from there, taking a huge clump of grass with his swing, but his shot landed 20 feet from the pin, with a big right-to-left break.

When Woods could not coax his birdie putt home, Cabrera became the improbable winner. A player who likes to sneak puffs from a cigarette and swing from the heels, he picked a fine time to score his first big win on American soil. He had scored three wins on the PGA European Tour but has never savored anything like yesterday.

Oakmont was a drag for most players, but not for the chain-smoking Cabrera.

"There are some players that have psychologists," Cabrera said. "I smoke."

Yesterday, Cabrera smoked them all.

Chris Dufresne writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Worldbeaters

Foreign-born golfers have won the U.S. Open just 31 times in 107 years, but they've done it each of the past four years and seven times in the past 14. The most recent foreign-born winners:

Year .................. Winner ....................... Country

2007 ............. Angel Cabrera ........... Argentina

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