Angel Cabrera wins the Greenbrier

07.06.14 cabrera final reax

When Angel Cabrera’s career is over, he’s going to be remembered for his major championship wins. At 44 years of age, he’s got enough time to win more tournaments, but if he can’t get another major win before he decides to walk away, having the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters on his resume is pretty good.  His win on Sunday at the Greenbrier probably won’t be remembered by as many people, but watching him on the course and hearing him speak after the round, it almost seems like this win means nearly as much as those other two.

It’s difficult to call someone with two major championships an underachiever unless your name is John Daly, but Cabrera has been frequently put into that class as well. Despite winning 51 times worldwide, including those two majors, Cabrera’s PGA Tour record has been surprisingly poor, as Sunday’s win at the Greenbrier is his first non-major win in North America. Some other quick stats:

  • He’s played 192 times on the PGA Tour since 1996, averaging nearly 71.6 strokes per round.
  • In those 192 starts, he’s missed 78 cuts.
  • Including the win on Sunday, he’s finished inside the top-10 just twenty-two times.
  • Of those twenty-two top-10 finishes, ten of them have been in majors.

So, why hasn’t it worked for Cabrera on a more regular basis? For starters, the aggressive play that we saw from him down the stretch at The Old White TPC, most notably taking driver out on 16 with a one-shot lead and bombing it over the water at 329 yards, doesn’t generally play well on a week to week basis:

That aggressive play was never more apparent than on Sunday at 2013 Masters when Cabrera needed a birdie on 18 to force a playoff with Adam Scott. Cabrera never hesitated at all and hit one of the best shots in Masters history, and even though he would go on to lose the playoff, the week that he had reminded all of us of the immense amount of skill that resides in El Pato’s rotund body.

Incredible approach into 18 to force a playoff with Adam Scott.

Incredible approach into 18 to force a playoff with Adam Scott.

When you take the chances that Cabrera takes, you’re going to blow up frequently, but you’d think that winning at places like Oakmont and Augusta would lead to more success than what he’s had to this point in his career.

Angel Cabrera reacts to a shot into the water at Augusta's 13th.

Angel Cabrera reacts to a shot into the water at Augusta’s 13th.

There’s always been talk around Cabrera that the regular PGA Tour stops don’t mean that much to him, and that he figures that he can just turn the talent on and off like a light switch around the majors and other marquee events. If that’s the case, he’s probably the first player in golf history to be able to do something like that, but after the round on Sunday, Cabrera talked about how hard he’s worked to get to this point and how he needed the win. Maybe he was talking about his five-year PGA Tour exemption from winning the Masters running out at the end of this season, but the relief on his face in the GIF at the top of this page should tell you something different.

People may not remember much about this win going forward, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be high on Cabrera’s list for quite some time.

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