OAKMONT, Pa. - When Angel Cabrera birdied his last hole here at the Oakmont Country Club on Friday, he knocked Phil Mickelson and 18 other golfers off the U.S. Open leaderboard for the weekend.
He wasn't done by a long stretch.
The man from the Argentine shot a one-under 69 Sunday to win the 107th U.S. Open at 5-over-par , holding off in the process world No. 1 Tiger Woods by one stroke. Woods, who at one point had a one-stroke lead on Sunday, needed a 25-foot birdie put to fall on No. 18 to force a playoff. He missed it high by a few feet.
"I cannot describe the feeling now," said Cabrera, 37, who waited in the clubhouse as Woods putted. "Maybe tomorrow when I wake up in the morning with the trophy in my bed, then I will be able to."
Former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk finished at 6-over with Woods. David Toms and Bubba Watson finished at 9-over par.
Cabrera was the only player in the field this week to finish with two rounds under par, on a golf course that has drawn criticism from some players for its difficulty.
For the second major in a row, Woods entered Sunday in the final pairing. And for the second time, he fell short.
After a double bogey on the third hole, he bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 4th. From there on, he couldn't manage a birdie - including missing a short, 6-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th.
He stood on the 18th tee needing birdie to force a playoff. Only five players had birdied the 18th all day to that point. Woods hit a driver he instantly liked, but it leaked right and sat wedged between the intermediate and primary cut.
So Woods continues to be haunted by one of the few blemishes in his major record: He has never won one not leading at the start of the final round.
"I just needed to make one, maybe two [birdies]," Woods said. "I had a feeling that's what I needed coming in, and that turned out to be the case, but I just didn't make any birdies."
Furyk was tied with Cabrera before the 17th hole - one of Oakmont's best birdie opportunities. But his drive found the rough and his approach fell short. He bogeyed.
"I had a few holes, like 2, 12 and 17 where I really should have been able to make a par," he said. "I wasn't able to do it, and that's what the U.S. Open does to you."
Aaron Baddeley had a two-stroke lead at the start of play Sunday, and had the best putting average in the field. But his putter failed him right off the bat, and he was never able to get it going. A three-putt from six feet on the first hole led to a triple bogey. On the 4th hole, he three-putted for par and missed two other birdie putts. He finished out of the top ten with a final round 80.
"If the putts fall it's a different story," he said. "I had the birdie opportunities on the front. But I gave it 100 percent and that's all I can ask for."
Now Cabrera is a major winner. He's been close before: he finished tied for fourth at the 1999 British Open and eighth in last year's Masters.
He finished the front nine 1-under par. From there, Cabrera birdied the 11th and 15th before dropping a shot on the day's toughest par-3, the 16th. But he stayed steady on 17 and 18, hitting both fairways and greens for two routine pars.
"I was close at the British Open and Augusta," he said. "Playing well in the majors helps because you know you can come in and be capable of winning."
June 17, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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