Thursday, October 18, 2007

Grand Slam CABRERA

Barely a few days after losing the World Match Play to Ernie ELS, U.S. Open champion Angel CABRERA wanted to beat an elite field of major champions at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, but it did not escape the big-hitting Argentine that this was an exhibition.

That explains why he hit driver at every turn, with mixed results.

It put him in dire trouble on the opening hole, leading to a triple bogey that left him five shots behind. And it rescued CABRERA at the end of an exciting afternoon at Mid-Ocean Club, with two booming drives on the par-5 18th.

One led to an eagle that put him in a playoff with British Open champion Padraig HARRINGTON.

The other led to a two-putt birdie for an unlikely victory Wednesday.

"I trust my driver very much," CABRERA said. "And I thought it would be nice here to show off a little bit, to show everybody how nice and how far I hit my driver."

Indeed, some 7,000 fans -- that's about 10 percent of the population on Bermuda -- gasped when CABRERA pounded the ball off tee.

Even more breathtaking was his finish.

CABRERA finished birdie-eagle to atone for his triple-bogey start, giving him a 2-under 68 to force a playoff with HARRINGTON. He beat the Irishman with a birdie on the third extra hole to get the Grand Slam off to a great start in its new home in the Atlantic.

"The only thing I can say is it was complicated after the first hole, and I was able to come back," he said. "And that was a great thing."

CABRERA, who rallied from his atrocious start to catch HARRINGTON with an eagle on 11th hole, figured to be the least of Harrington's worries when the Argentine made a sloppy bogey on the 16th after driving some 50 yards short of the green.

"I told my caddie we had to make 2-3 to have a chance," Cabrera said.

Both missed the 18th green and made pars, and HARRINGTON got up-and-down at the 17th to keep the playoff going. CABRERA pounded another tee shot on the third extra hole at No. 18; hit a 4-iron to 18 feet. He needed only two putts for birdie and the victory after Harrington hit into a deep bunker off the tee and still had 4 feet left for par when it ended.

For the first exhibition in the silly season, these guys were all business.

"I wouldn't have liked to be second here," CABRERA, said.

HARRINGTON's only big mistake came at the ninth, when he hooked his tee shot into the bushes. Despite getting plenty of directions from fans across the fairway, he never found his ball and wound up with a double bogey.

That put some drama into the back nine, setting up a big finish and an unlikely victory for CABRERA

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