Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

July 7, 2014

No major deal: Cabrera wins Greenbrier

— WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Angel Cabrera no longer has to fret about that streak of disappointments in non-major events on the PGA Tour.

The 44-year-old Argentine won the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday for his first victory in a tournament other than a major, closing with his second straight 6-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over a heavy-hearted George McNeill.

Cabrera, whose only other PGA Tour victories came in the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters, built a three-shot lead before making things interesting with a pair of late bogeys. He finished at 16-under 264 and now has another green jacket — that as Greenbrier Classic champion.

Cabrera had no top 10-finishes this season entering the tournament but had everything working Sunday, hammering drives and approach shots with precision and coming up with clutch putts, especially on the back nine.

“This was a great opportunity,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “I wanted it. I needed to win a tournament.  I felt under control today out there, and I didn’t want to let it get away from me.”

McNeill shot a season-best 61 for his fourth top-10 of the season and first since mid-March. But he’ll put golf on hold for a few weeks. Golf Channel reported that his older sister, Michele McNeill, died of cancer Sunday morning and the player was informed after his round was over.

“Golf doesn’t really mean a whole lot,” McNeill told reporters.  So it’s hard.”

Webb Simpson had a 63 to finish third at 10 under.

Third-round leader Billy Hurley III bogeyed four of the first six holes to fall out of contention. He shot 73 and finished in a seven-way tie for fourth at 9 under.

No third-round leader has hung on to win the Greenbrier Classic in its five-year existence.

McNeill was the clubhouse leader at 14 under well ahead of Cabrera, who still had the back nine to play.

Cabrera overtook McNeill with birdie putts of 17 and 7 feet on the 11th and 12th holes, then gave a fist pump after moving to 17 under by holing a 176-yard 8-iron up the hill for eagle on the par-4 13th, the hardest hole at Old White TPC.

By then his lead was three strokes, but he bogeyed the 14th after his approach shot spun off the front of the green and bogeyed the par-3 15th after hitting into the rough on his tee shot.

Cabrera smashed a 330-yard drive over the lake on the par-4 16th and made par, then drilled a 336-yard drive on the 616-yard 17th and two-putted for birdie. He closed out with par on the par-3 18th.

“The big thing was the drive today,” he said. “It was good all week long.  It made the course play a little shorter for myself.”

Cabrera won $1.17 million and is projected to improve from 158th to 54th in the FedEx Cup standings. McNeill would move from 60th to 29th.  

Simpson had flown home on Friday and learned upon landing that he made the cut. So he rented a car and drove back to West Virginia.

Simpson and Keagan Bradley both had strong finishes as they continue to try to impress U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, who will make three at-large selections for the Sept. 26-28 event at Gleneagles in Scotland. The top nine in the Ryder Cup standings automatically qualify for the team. Simpson is 17th and Bradley is 18th.

“I think Tom knows what’s going on, and I’m hoping my good play will take care of it and not have to be a captain’s pick,” Simpson said. “But if I was a captain’s pick, it would be great to be on that team.”

Joining Hurley at 9 under were Bud Cauley (64), Bradley (66), Brendon Todd (66), Chris Stroud (69), Cameron Tringale (69) and Will Wilcox (69).

The leading four players among the top 12 not already exempt for the British Open earned spots in the July 17-20 tournament at Royal Liverpool. Those spots went to McNeill, Stroud, Tringale and Hurley.

Cauley’s final shot of the day was a hole-in-one on the 18th, which triggered a $100 prize from the tournament to paying customers in the stands. But Cauley missed out this week on a British Open nod, whose qualifying tiebreaker uses the world ranking. Cauley entered the week at No. 295. Another spot will be handed out next weekend at the John Deere Classic.

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