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Cabrera Takes Master’s in Three-Way Playoff;
Woods, Mickelson Stage Scintillating Duel

Thirty-nine-year-old Argentinean Angel Cabrera took advantage of a lucky bounce off a tree to survive the first hole of a sudden death playoff that eliminated Chad Campbell, then went on to beat Kenny Perry with a par on the second sudden-death hole and win the 72nd Master’s Golf Tournament at the Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club on Sunday afternoon.

The tournament’s outcome surprised everyone—perhaps even Cabrera himself—because the focus all day had been on two of golf’s best, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, as they struggled to out-duel each other and catch the leaders.

Both Woods and Mickelson had started the final round at -4, seven strokes in back of the third-round leaders, Perry and Cabrera. Mickelson blistered the front nine with a six-under-par 30 to climb into contention. Woods’ opening 33 left him at -7, just four strokes back of the leaders and three behind Mickelson

The old saying is that the Master’s begins at the tenth hole on Sunday, and is a sprint through the back nine. Easter 2009 proved true to the adage, providing drama at every hole and on every stroke.
Mickelson couldn’t maintain his torrid pace, finding Rae’s Creek and double-bogeying 12 to drop to -8. Woods started his move with a birdie on 13, which Lefty matched. Both birdied 15 and Woods’ tied Mickelson at -10 with a birdie on 16 that left them both one stroke back of Perry.
It was as close as either would get. Mickelson closed with a par and a bogey to finish fifth at -9, while Woods went bogey-bogey and tied for sixth at -8.

Perry, meanwhile, was putting together a string of 22 holes without a bogey, cruising along with the lead all day. He birdied 12 to go to -12 and then wasted a chance for another on 13.

He watched Chad Campbell from the top of a ridge on the 15th as Campbell missed an eagle putt, then tapped in for birdie to tie it up at -12. Perry’s approach left him no chance at an eagle, but a nice lag putt and a dead-center birdie got him the lead back at -13.

What about Cabrera? Where was he this whole time? Playing with Perry in the last pairing, Cabrera grabbed the early lead with a birdie at the third, but fell right back into a tie when he bogeyed the fourth and behind a stroke when he bogeyed the fifth as well. He dropped yet another at the 10th, then made it back to -11 with birdies on 13 and 15.

Still, few noticed when Cabrera birdied 16, because Perry had hit a gorgeous eight iron within inches of the pin and tapped in for his birdie and a two-stroke lead at -14.

At the 17th, though, Perry hit an errant drive into the woods and made his first bogey of the day. On the 18th his drive went awry again, this time finding a bunker, and his second shot went wide of the green. His chip didn’t get him very close, leaving a long putt for par—and the green jacket—that hung on the lip, refusing to fall.

All Cabrera had to do was par the last two holes to force a three-way tie and the sudden-death playoff.

Playing the 18th again, Cabrera hit his drive into the woods, then slapped his second shot off the pine straw and into a tree. That’s where luck intervened. The ball bounced off the tree and into the fairway, leaving Cabrera a good look at his third shot, which he put in close.
Perry’s second shot was short and right of the green, but he hit a great chip and tapped in for his par.
Campbell’s approach found a greenside bunker. His sand shot was a good one, but he missed his par putt and was eliminated.

Cabrera made his putt—dead center—and with a pump of his fist went on to the next sudden death hole, number 10, with Perry.

This time it was Perry who made the mistake, hitting his second shot wide of the green, then sending his third well past the hole and missing a long return putt.

Cabrera’s approach had been a good one, and he two-putted easily to take the 14th playoff in Master’s history—the third in the last nine years.

It was the second major tournament victory for Cabrera, who also won the 2007 U.S. Open. He is the first player from South America to win the Master’s.


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