Ángel Cabrera’s PGA Tour career has been something of a statistical anomaly.
While many players have had success in regular events on the Tour but have failed to win a major, Cabrera has been the exact opposite. Before this week, both of his two career PGA Tour victories had come at major championships (2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters).
That all changed at the Greenbrier Classic this past weekend, where Cabrera shot 64-64 on Saturday and Sunday to finish with a 16-under, 264 and become the newest champion in the event’s brief five-year history. Cabrera was able to overcome a tremendous final round 61 from George McNeill thanks to a stellar performance that encompassed all facets of his game. His drives were long and consistently found the fairway, his iron shots were crisp, and he was able to sink several clutch putts to end his five-year winless drought.
On the tournament, Cabrera ranked first in greens in regulation (79.17%), fourth in driving accuracy (82.14%), fifth in strokes gained putting (+1.574) and 11th in driving distance (307.1 yards). It was the kind of all-around performance that reminds you that Cabrera can be among the world’s best when he’s firing on all cylinders.
The highlight of his tournament, however, came Sunday on the 13th hole, where he made an eagle by holing out from 175 yards.
While Cabrera’s lead did shrink to just one shot after he bogeyed the 14th and 15th holes, he was able to regroup and hang on for a two-shot victory.
The win was a huge confidence booster for “El Pato” (as he’s affectionately called by his fans), as he had endured his share of struggles recently. Before this week, Cabrera had played in 16 PGA Tour events this season, missing nine cuts while finishing in the top 25 just twice. The victory catapulted him from 158th to 54th in the FedEx Cup standings.
His career numbers on the PGA Tour are solid, but don’t exactly jump off the page. In 217 career starts, Cabrera has three wins, 25 Top 10 finishes, 73 Top 25 finishes, and has made 133 cuts.
However, in addition to his Greenbrier Classic, U.S. Open, and Masters triumphs, he has also won three times on the European Tour and has a total of 52 victories worldwide, many of which have come in his native Argentina. All things considered, he probably has done enough in his career already to earn a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
If he is eventually enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Cabrera, 44, will be a one-of-a-kind addition.
With a rather stocky build akin to Mike Tyson circa 2009 and a penchant for cigarettes, Cabrera always looks relaxed, confident and jovial on the golf course, always ready to give a fist bump or a high five to one of his playing partners after a nice shot.
With his calm demeanor, it should come as no surprise that he has found his greatest success on golf’s biggest stages such as the Masters and the U.S. Open. And with the Open Championship (where he’s made just two cuts in 15 appearances) just two weeks away, Cabrera’s game might be coming together at just the right time.
His win this weekend might be taking a backseat back home to Lionel Messi and the Argentine national soccer team, which has advanced to the semifinals of the World Cup, but Cabrera may find himself in the headlines in the near future.
If he continues to play like he did at the Greenbrier Classic this weekend, expect to see “El Pato” near the top of the leaderboard in the months to come, both major championships and otherwise.