Angel Cabrera bedeviled the Old White TPC with 64-64 on the weekend to post 16-under-par 264 for his first non-major win on TOUR at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. He defeated American George McNeill by two shots. American Webb Simpson rounded out the podium a whopping six shots behind the winner.
Angel Cabrera began Sunday two shots behind 54-hole leader Billy Hurley III as he was trying to add to his 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters. Hurley III, sleeping on the 54-hole lead for the first time in his career, expanded his lead to three shots after an opening birdie but that would be the last time he would concern Cabrera. Bogeys on four of his next five holes combined with three birdies in six from Cabrera saw the Argentine pull away from his playing partner. The biggest challenge for Cabrera came from the clubhouse as George McNeill, who began the day T19, rattled off seven birdies and an ace to post 14-under after his sensational 61. Cabrera answered with his own eagle, although not as spectacular, from a field shot on No. 13. He backed that up with consecutive bogeys but stretched his lead back to two shots after a birdie on the par-five 17th.
A 2013-14 season that saw him MC in nine of his first 14 starts, Cabrera has heated up like the weather this summer. His MC at Pinehurst No.2 could have been the straw that broke most gamers backs but the Argentine rebounded with 65-67 to finish T11 at the Travelers and he played the difficult weekend at QLN in even par to rack up T24. This week, he closed 64-64 on the weekend so this tells me he’s a recent fan of TPC layouts!
This week the big hitter bombed his way over and around the trouble to finish fourth in fairways and 11th in distance. He took advantage of his length and accuracy to lead the field in GIR. If that wasn’t enough, his putter was up for the challenge as he rolled in 19 birdies (T3) and two eagles (one from the fairway, to be fair!). He was T3 in putts per GIR and sixth in strokes gained-putting which resulted in only making five bogeys. Those are plenty of reasons why he won comfortably this week!
Gamers always perk up around the majors because of Cabrera’s length and short game. His two major championships, plus runner-up finish to Adam Scott in 2013 kept our attention. Away from the majors has been a noticeably different story. His best non-major finish on TOUR was T3 at Quail Hollow back in 2010. That’s over FOUR years ago for you math majors. Since 2010, he’s hit the top 10 exactly five times in 74 events. That’s hardly a rate of return gamers dream about but is hardly rare for a guy entering his 40s.
Cabrera will turn 45 in September and moving forward I’ll keep a cautious eye on him. I’m never a big fan of guys at that stage of their career because it usually takes a performance like the one listed above to beat all these young studs. It would make sense that a crusty veteran like this would be a decent later-round pick up at Hoylake but I can’t forget this was his first top 10 since the Travelers in 2013. That finish began a three tournament stretch of T13 or better last summer. The final piece of that puzzle last year? T11 at Muirfield.
As the season moves along, Cabrera, with this win, jumped from No. 158 in the FedExCup standings to No. 54. Remember, there usually is a reason why a guy is ranked No. 158 and it’s hardly reputation. His last three weeks have been excellent but I’m not banking on three more like them with just 10 or so events left. He’s worth a flier at Hoylake but I’m not rearranging my season-long team around him.
With his victory, his third on TOUR, Cabrera collects $1,170,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 23 of 34 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane and Kevin Streelman have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama joined Seung-yul Noh as the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer now has a play pal as Justin Rose joins the European effort. Cabrera will fly the flag for South America.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 34 events so far in 2014.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14, 17 of 33 leaders have gone on to win as Billy Hurley III will take away some valuable experience from this week as he finished T4.
No player has defended their Greenbrier Classic title as 2013 champion Jonas Blixt opened with 64 but shot 73 on Friday and 71 Sunday to finish T35.
Veterans Stuart Appleby and Angel Cabrera join youngsters Scott Stallings, Ted Potter, Jr., and Jonas Blixt as the winners at The Greenbrier. #trendnotatrend
Since the Old White TPC was redone, the winning scores have been 16-under, 13-under and 16-under. #trendnotatrend
After only seven players completing all four rounds in the 60s in 2013, eight players did the deed in 2014.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer remain the multiple winners on TOUR this season.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35) and Justin Rose, 33, add to the prime-timers trophy case.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden (42) FINALLY has some company in the winner’s circle this year for the old folks as Cabrera, 44, makes it a two-some. How many people thought the first guy, let alone the second guy on this list would have contained the names Mickelson, Stricker or Furyk? #Wrongo