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Angel Cabrera lifts US Open

india Updated: Jun 18, 2007 11:17 IST

AFP
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Angel Cabrera edged superstar Tiger Woods and former champ Jim Furyk to win the 107th US Open golf championship, becoming the first Argentinian to lift the coveted trophy.

He joined Roberto di Vicenzo, winner of the 1967 British Open at Hoylake, as the only Argentinians to win one of golf's four major titles.

"It's very difficult to describe this moment," said Cabrera, who carded a one-under-par 69 and then could only watch on television as first Furyk and then Woods failed to better or match his five-over total of 285.

Furyk posted an even-par 70, while Woods settled for a two-over 72 to join his compatriot on 286, one shot ahead of Sweden's Niclas Fasth (70).

"Angel played a beautiful round of golf," Woods said. "He had some great golf shots, and that's what you have to do. He went out there and put all the pressure on Jim and I, and we fell one shot short."

Woods was particularly impressed with Cabrera's birdie at 15, where the 37-year-old veteran almost holed his second shot to grab a three-shot lead.

"I saw the highlights and the shots that he spun out of the first cut - holding the ball there on 15 - not an easy shot, but he did it."
But Cabrera's back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17 opened the door for Furyk and Woods.

After bogeys at 11 and 12, Furyk had worked his way up the leaderboard with three birdies in a row from the 13th. That run saw Furyk leapfrog past Woods.

But Furyk bogeyed 17 to fall out of a tie for the lead, and a poor approach ended any chance to force a playoff.

At 18, Cabrera had conquered his nerves to end his bogey run - becoming the only player to break par twice in the week - then turned his attention to Woods.

"I was just hoping they would not make any birdies," said the world No.41, who improved on his previous best finish in a major - a tie for fourth at the 1999 British Open. "Tiger can birdie any hole."

But he didn't. From a bogey at 11, Woods could only wrestle seven straight pars from Oakmont.

He had a golden opportunity at the par-three 13th but two putted.

"I was still in the ballgame," he said. "There was still a lot of holes to play. I thought I needed to make one, possibly two, to force it into Monday or win it outright."

An attempt to drive the green of the 306-yard 17th saw him in a bunker, and his shot out skidded across the green into the rough.

"I had a pretty easy chip, tried to make it, didn't. Then I had a hard putt again and I made that one," he said of his par save.

Cabrera became the second unexpected major champion this year, following Zach Johnson's surprise win at the Masters.

He also insured that a rare blot on Woods' resume remained intact - despite 12 major triumphs Woods has never won one of golf's grand slam tournaments in which he trailed heading into the final round.

Cabrera had shown he was ready to contend when he seized the halfway lead on Friday night with a 69. His birdie at 18 in that round established a cut line that sent three-time major-winner Phil Mickelson home for the weekend.

But he posted a third-round 76 to start the final round four shots behind overnight leader Aaron Baddeley of Australia.

Cabrera moved up a jammed leaderboard with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth.

Despite two bogeys, he kept his nose in front with birdies at the eighth - the mammoth par-three set up to play Sunday at 300 yards - and 11th.

At that point, it appeared to be a two-man race between Cabrera and Woods, who started the day two strokes behind Baddeley.

That deficit was erased at the opening hole, Woods grabbing a share of the lead when Baddeley posted a triple-bogey.

But Woods came undone himself two holes later, with a double-bogey six at the third.

Baddeley, trying to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Geoff Ogilvy as US Open champ, finished the day with a 10-over 80, tied for 13th on 292.

He was one of a stream of would-be contenders who fell by the wayside at "Chokemont," including Canadian Stephen Ames, Englishmen Justin Rose and Paul Casey and American Bubba Watson.

Watson finished tied for fifth with compatriot David Toms.

Ames, Casey and Rose finished tied for 10th on 291 as European frustration continued. The last European to win the US Open was Tony Jacklin in 1970, while the last to win a major at all was Scotland's Paul Lawrie in 1999.

However, Cabrera's victory continued a recent run of foreign success in the US championship, which hasn't been won by an American since Furyk's 2003 victory at Olympia Fields.