Argentina’s Cabrera holds nerve to win Masters in play-off

April 13th, 2009 - 2:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Tiger Woods Augusta (Georgia), April 13 (DPA) Argentine golfer Angel Cabrera kept his nerve under intense pressure to win the Masters after a three-man sudden death play-off with Americans Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell.
The 39-year-old fired a 1-under-par 71 to force his way into a play-off and after Campbell was eliminated at the first extra hole, the Argentine parred the second extra hole - the 10th - to edge out Perry for his second Major win at the Augusta National Golf Club here Sunday.

“It is one of the happiest moments in my life,” Cabrera said after adding the Masters to his 2007 US Open title.

In one of the most dramatic final days at Augusta for years, Phil Mickelson (9-under-par) and Tiger Woods (8-under-par) both made early charges with some brilliant shot-making.

But Perry looked an almost certain winner when he birdied the 16th hole to go 14-under-par, two shots clear of Cabrera and Campbell.

The 48-year-old, bidding to become the oldest Major winner in history, bogeyed the final two holes to fall into a play-off with Cabrera and Campbell, who missed a birdie putt on the last hole of his round that would have won him his first Major.

The trio went back to the 18th tee and all three made a hash of things, but while Cabrera and Perry rescued their pars, Campbell missed his par putt and dropped out of contention.

Both Cabrera and Perry found the middle of the fairway on the second extra hole, but Perry pulled his second to the left while Cabrera found the green about 15 feet from the flag.

Perry hit his chip to about 25 feet and then missed his par putt, giving Cabrera two putts to win it and the Argentine made no mistake, putting the first one stone dead and then tapping in for a victory he celebrated with a punch of joy.

“I am not going to hang my head over this,” Perry said. “I fought hard out there, I was nervous, I didn’t get it done at the end but I had a lot of fun and I am very proud of myself.

“I had the tournament to win, I lost the tournament, but Angel hung in there. I want to congratulate him.”

Campbell, like Perry bidding for his first Major, rued his poor approach to the first play-off hole when he found the bunker from the middle of the fairway.

“I had a 7-iron and just hung it out there. Then hit a great bunker shot and a bad putt. I just have to make a few more putts and hopefully I’ll be back in this situation again.”

For a while it looked as if either Mickelson or Woods might pull off what would have been one of the most remarkable come-from-behind wins in Major history as they tore up the course with some stunning play.

In the past, Mickelson has struggled when partnered with Woods but he put all those problems behind him as he produced a brilliant outward nine of 30, six under par.

The two-time champion birdied two of the first three holes and then birdied five, six, seven and eight to hit 10-under-par before he found water at the 12th and double-bogeyed the treacherous par three.

But the American immediately birdied the 13th hole to go back to 9-under-par and was unlucky not to birdie the 14th hole when his putt lipped out.

Mickelson then slammed a brilliant second shot to the par-five to about four feet but he missed the eagle putt and though he birdied it to go 10-under-par, a bogey at the last cost him any chance of victory.

“It was a fun front nine,” Mickelson said. “I thought there were some pins you could get to and get some momentum.

“(The putt at 15), yeah, I let that one slide - that putt certainly hurt. (After) the ball went in the water at 12 I stopped making putts.”

After a steady start, Woods caught fire with a brilliant eagle at the eighth hole and then birdied the two par fives on the back nine and the par-three 16th to get to 10-under, but he finished with two bogeys to end up on 8-under.

“It was a struggle all day,” Woods said. “I just had to keep going out there. No matter what Phil was doing I just had to hold up my end of the bargain, if I could have got to 11-under it would have been alright.

“I hit a good tee-shot up 17 and it just got struck under the trees and that was it.”

Japan’s Shingo Katayama fired a 68 to finish fourth, one shot ahead of Mickelson, while the leading European player was Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who tied 17th.

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