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June 18, 2007

 

Cabrera pulls off Open surprise

Stares down Woods, Furyk at Oakmont

Golf

Associated Press/Elise Amendola
Angel Cabrera of Argentina is happy being so close to the cup on the 18th hole during the final round of the 107th U.S. Open at the Oakmont Country Club Sunday.  Cabrera made the putt to take the title at 5-over-par 285.

By ALAN ROBINSON
AP Sports Writer

OAKMONT, Pa. — Possessing greatness is a necessity to win at Oakmont, so went the talk all week at the U.S. Open. The kind of over-the-top talent Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus displayed in winning championships there, that Johnny Miller owned for a day while shooting his record 63 in 1973.
So, with Tiger Woods ready to win the 13th major championship that would edge him closer to Nicklaus’ record 18 majors, how could Angel Cabrera emerge from a tense final round Sunday as champion?
All together now: Who?
Cabrera is 12th in European Tour career earnings, but his visibility in America probably couldn’t have been much lower. Despite six previous top 10 finishes in majors, he is almost never mentioned among the top contenders in big tournaments.
Now that he’s stared down world-ranked No. 1 Woods and No. 3 Jim Furyk to bring a U.S. Open title home to Argentina for the first time — smoking like a steel mill, much like Arnold Palmer once did — that will change.
“The good thing is that I beat everybody here, not only Tiger Woods,” Cabrera said Sunday, moments after putting both arms around the championship trophy and tucking it close.
Cabrera, 36, doesn’t come from a country club background, growing up so poor he didn’t finish elementary school. He began golfing only because his caddie’s job allowed him to venture onto home-course Cordoba Golf Club. Back home, he is nicknamed El Pato — the duck — for the way he walks down the fairway.
“I had to work as a caddie to put food on the table,” said Cabrera, whose best previous victory came in the 2005 BMW Championship, one of Europe’s top events. “That’s why, probably, these moments are enjoyed even more.”
He smokes to deal with stress.
“Well, there are some players that have psychologists, sportologists,” he said. “I smoke.”
Curiously, Oakmont Country Club, home to the rich, wealthy and famous, put away most of the field with its toughness, enabling the once dirt-poor Cabrera to take care of the rest as he finished at 5-over 285 for the tournament. Big and burly, Cabrera fit in well in Pittsburgh, where star athletes such as the now-retired Jerome Bettis aren’t always perfect physical specimens.
Still, if one would have said his last name before the U.S. Open, many local fans would have confused him with Francisco Cabrera, the Braves bench player whose ninth-inning pinch hit beat the Pirates in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.
No doubt it was a coincidence, but Angel Cabrera was the only contender who came out Sunday wearing yellow and black, his bright shirt almost exactly the shade of Steelers gold. Furyk spent part of his youth in western Pennsylvania and some fans chanted his name, yet it was Cabrera who dressed the role as the hometown favorite.
“He (Cabrera) had some great golf shots, and that’s what you have to do,” Woods said. “He went out there and put all the pressure on Jim and I, and we fell one short.”
Woods was the runner-up in a major for the second time this year; he also was at the Masters. Furyk tied for second in the U.S. Open for the second year in a row, the first to do that since Palmer in 1966-67.
Cabrera, the only player with two below-par rounds at Oakmont, owned the second-round lead following a 1-under 69 on Thursday and a 71 on Friday. But his 6-over 76 Saturday left him four off the pace. That meant he went off four groups ahead of Woods and third-round leader Aaron Baddeley, who took a triple-bogey 7 on the first hole and never contended.
At one point, five were tied for the lead after Cabrera gave back a shot with a bogey at the ninth following birdies on the fourth and fifth. But he birdied the 10th to regain the lead and once led by three shots after another birdie on the 15th.
However, Cabrera gave Furyk and Woods a chance with consecutive bogeys at the 16th and 17th, each time missing par putts of around 10 feet.
“Yes, bogey on those holes made me nervous,” he said. “But, well, I knew I had to hit a good drive to make par on the 18th and sit  and wait.”
He did that on what proved to be Oakmont’s toughest hole Sunday, getting the par he needed to finish the way he started Thursday with a 1-under 69. Then, he went to the clubhouse and watched nervously as Furyk charged back into contention with three consecutive birdies starting on No. 13 and Woods played out his final four holes.
Furyk’s failed gamble on the 17th may have cost him a playoff today. With the tee moved up to make the hole play at 306 yards, he took out his driver but couldn’t reach the green, landing in the left front rough. His bogey 5 was the only glaring mistake of his second even-par 70 in as many days.
“Getting that close and not being able to win the golf tournament, yeah, it stings a little,” said Furyk, who lost at Winged Foot last year by missing a short par putt on the 18th. “But I went down swinging.”
Woods hung around all day but never gained control, finishing with only one birdie in his final 32 holes. What ultimately cost him was a double bogey 6 caused by two poor chip shots on No. 3.
“Finishing second is never fun,” Woods said. “You play so hard and it’s just disappointing.”
Woods took it to the final hole, where his long birdie putt to tie it never had a chance. Just like Cabrera supposedly didn’t have any chance of winning.
Cabrera’s victory is Argentina’s greatest golfing moment since Roberto de Vicenzo won the British Open in 1967. It also partly made up for the country’s greatest such disappointment a year later.
In the 1968 Masters, de Vicenzo incorrectly signed a wrong scoreboard and was denied a chance to play Bob Goalby in a playoff. De Vicenzo’s playing partner, Tommy Aaron, accidentally gave him a par on a hole rather than a birdie, and de Vicenzo didn’t catch the mistake before signing his card.
Cabrera knows the story, but draws his motivation from proving he could win a big one. Despite his long success on the European Tour, he had only three wins there and was considered something of an underachiever.
No more.
“I felt a winner,” he said.

 

 

Colbert heroics for TTC

Despite getting hurt in the first game, pitcher Matt Colbert was able to pitch long enough in both games to lead Dryden TTC to a 5-3, 6-2 doubleheader sweep over Cortland Alliance Bank in Babe Ruth Senior Division baseball action Saturday.
In another Senior Division twin bill, Homer Yankees swept Cortland Moose 8-6 and 7-5.
In Junior Division play, Cortland Eagles topped Cortland Elks 11-1.
SENIOR DIVISION
Dryden TTC 5, Alliance Bank 3: In a pitchers’ duel, Colbert worked the first four innings, but left the game with his team leading 5-3. Pat Perkins came on in relief and tossed three shutout innings to earn the save. Perkins recorded three strikeouts. TTC took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning as each team scored one run in the third and fourth innings. The teams combined for nine hits.
Tony Whitt went the distance for Alliance Bank and also struck out three batters.
Dryden TTC 6, Alliance Bank 2: Colbert recovered from his first game injury and started the second game for TTC (5-0). Thanks to single runs in the first two innings, Colbert left the game with a 2-0 lead. C.J. Vanderbilt and Perkins worked in relief.
After Alliance Bank pulled to within 2-1 in the top of the fifth, Wayne Dougherty (2-for-3, 4 RBIs) delivered a crucial bases-loaded double in the bottom of the inning for a 5-1 cushion.
Pat Phillips and Chris Forehand hit sixth-inning doubles to account for the final Alliance Bank (1-3) run.
Homer Yankees 8, Cortland Moose 6: Brandon Simonetta went the distance and recorded 13 strikeouts as the Yankees on the opening game of their doubleheader. Zach Blanden (double) and Zach Randolph each went 2-for-2 for the winners, who jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings before holding off a late-game rally.
Justin Burns was 2-for-4 with a double for the Moose.
Homer Yankees 7, Cortland Moose 5: The Moose (1-4) took a  3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and held a 4-1 advantage through four innings before the Yankees (4-0) struck for five runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead for good.
John Crampton was 2-for-2 for the Yankees with Eric Rosato adding a double. Jack Kissel was the wining pitcher with Randolph coming on for the save.
Burns posted a 2-for-4 effort for the Moose in the second game.

 

 

 

Post 465 takes two as McCall delivers

TRUMANSBURG — With one swing of his bat, Derrick McCall broke a 5-5 tie with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning as Homer Post 465 completed a doubleheader sweep of Trumansburg Post 770 in American Legion baseball action Saturday.
McCall sparked a five-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning in Game Two with a single which tied the game before he hit his solo shot in the seventh for the 6-5 win. Post 465 also rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the first game before posting an 8-4 triumph.
“It was nice to see Derrick McCall come up with the big home run,” said Homer coach Dennis Bruce. “He really came through for us. I am proud of the way this team has no quit in them. They keep coming from behind and finding a way to win.
“We got great relief pitching again,” Bruce added. “Ryne Austin did a great job in the first game by shutting down Trumansburg for four innings. Dan Miller and Anthony Brevetti pitched four innings of shut-out ball in game two.”
Homer 8, Trumansburg 4: Post 465 (2-2 overall) pounded out 15 hits in the opening game. Matt Murphy lead the way with a 4-for-4 bat while Jon Galeotti (2-for-4) added a three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning to give Homer a 6-4 lead.
Austin came on to pitch the final three innings to earn the save. Austin allowed just three hits and struck out six Post 770 batters.
Brevetti added a 3-for-4 effort in the opener with a double and three runs scored while Nick Biondi went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs.
Ben Robertson and Justin Smith led Trumansburg by going 2-for-4 with Jarrod Surine adding a double and two ribbies.
Homer 6, Trumansburg 5: Robertson baffled the Homer batters tossing a no-hitter through 4-2/3 innings. Alex Duell broke up the _no-hit bid with a single, but Robertson got out of the inning with a strikeout.