Golf

US Open countdown: Argentina’s Angel Cabrera conquers Oakmont, Woods and Furyk

107th U.S. Open | June 14-17, 2007

Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.

Leaderboard

Angel Cabrera, Argentina 69 - 71 - 76 - 69 285
Jim Furyk, United States 71 - 75 - 70 - 70 286
Tiger Woods, United States 71 - 74 - 69 - 72 286
Niclas Fasth, Sweden 71 - 71 - 75 - 70 287
David Toms, United States 72 - 72 - 73 - 72 289
Bubba Watson, United States 70 - 71 - 74 - 72 289

The run of little-known U.S. Open winners continued on one of America’s most famous — and terrorizing — layouts with Angel Cabrera becoming the first man from South America to win the national open.

But this victory felt different from others posted by Michael Campbell at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005 or Geoff Ogilvy at Winged Foot Golf Club in 2006.

Cabrera seemed the be the one man willing to stand up to two of the most intimidating entities in golf — Oakmont and superstar Tiger Woods.

Oakmont remains the one test that pummels golfers in a way no other course does. That week, it was dry and the greens lightning quick. Some of the best players in the world would line up 8-foot putts knowing they had a long-shot chance of sinking them.

That kind of hardship seemed to play into the hands of Woods, who always had flourished on the most challenging courses.

After overnight leader Aaron Baddeley wilted away early in the final round, this championship surely set up for a Woods run — and exclamation-point third U.S. Open triumph.

But it was Cabrera, the man known as “El Pato” (“The Duck”) for his waddling gait, who stood the tallest with three back-nine birdies. He birdied the 15th hole to reach 3-under for his round before making back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17, eventually getting into the clubhouse after a 69. With that 69, Cabrera became the only golfer in the field to break par twice that week.

With Jim Furyk and Woods needing birdies on the finishing hole to force a playoff, Furyk — who had his second consecutive U.S. Open runner-up showing — missed a 45-foot birdie putt.

Then it was Woods’ turn on a triple-breaking 30-footer. He missed. Not only did Cabrera, a former caddie in Argentina, have his first PGA Tour win, but it was also his first major title.

The last Argentine to win a major was Roberto De Vicenzo, who captured the 1967 British Open.

“I watched all the majors on TV when I was a kid,” Cabrera told reporters afterward. “I never thought I would be here at this moment.”

From a corporate side of things, 2007 was a big year for the USGA. It entered a partnership with American Express — the first time it signed a commercial agreement with a company.

Also born out of this national open was a brief exhibition called “The U.S. Open Challenge,” which featured three celebrities and one amateur golfer playing the hardest set-up in golf. It came from comments made by Woods during the championship, saying “a 10-handicapper doesn’t break 100” at Oakmont.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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