Angel Cabrera can finally add a regular old PGA Tour win to his career resume. Cabrera had built a reputation for wandering off the map for much of the regular season, and then always popping back up at majors to compete, contend and win. He's rarely even been a factor or on the first page of the leaderboard during these annual PGA Tour stops, but could always fall back on those Masters and U.S. Open titles.
On Sunday, Cabrera started his final 18 at the Greenbrier Classic playing in the final group but needing to make up a deficit to playing partner Billy Hurley III. The Argentinian did that promptly, and despite a few bumps on the back nine, rolled into the clubhouse for a two-shot win over George McNeill. Much like his majors, this came a little out of nowhere, as his form wasn't exactly steady coming into the week.
In his last 22 events on the PGA Tour, Angel Cabrera has one top-10 finish and 10 missed cuts.— Jamie Kennedy (@jamieonsport) July 6, 2014
Scoring conditions were good on Sunday and Cabrera rolled in three steady birdies on the front nine to go out in 31. But after the turn was where he made his real move and put some distance on the field. El Pato played the first four holes on the back nine in 4-under. The highlight of the stretch, and of his round and his week, came at the 13th, where he holed out for eagle from 175 yards out in the fairway.
It's hard not to love the duck -- he's always high-fiving his playing partners in competition, engaging the fans, and smoothly strolling around the course during what always appears like the most casual endeavor. The fist pump after the hole-out made you think this one was locked up by the 13th hole.
Cabrera would drop shots on back-to-back holes after that eagle, but that only got McNeill within one shot, and he was already helplessly inside the clubhouse. At the gettable par-5 17th, Cabrera ripped a 330-yard-plus drive off the tee and safely got on the green in two for a tap-in birdie. That pushed the margin back to two and sealed Cabrera's first non-major win, built through two buttery weekend rounds of 64.
McNeill's 61 was the round of the day, and it looked like it would be good enough to get him in a playoff. It started with an outward 28 on the front nine, which included a hole-in-one and a five-hole stretch he played in 6-under. The hole-in-one officially put us on #59watch for McNeil. It was at this venue that Stuart Appleby posted his 59 in 2010, but McNeill could not match and "cooled off" for a back-nine 33. The two-time PGA Tour winner was playing under fairly difficult circumstances. His sister is very ill, and McNeill has already backed out of next week's event to go and be with his family. Following the amazing round, he broke down talking to Peter Kostis of CBS about the perspective he had on such a great day of golf given the family concerns on his mind at the moment. He didn't win but it was an impressive day from start to finish for McNeill.
(Update: Jason Sobel of Golf Channel talked to McNeill after the round, and he said that his sister passed away on Sunday. McNeill found out after the round.)
Just spoke with George McNeill. His oldest sister, Michele, passed away from cancer at 11:35 this morning. He found out after his round.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 6, 2014
I asked McNeill how he was able to shoot 61 with so much weighing on his mind. "I don't know ... I really don't know."— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 6, 2014
Even though he didn't get the victory, one thing McNeill can take home is a fresh invitation to the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in two weeks. The top four players not already exempt earn spots for the season's third major, and joining McNeill are Hurley, Chris Stroud and Cameron Tringale. Those four will take home nice six-figure checks and a new date on the schedule overseas in just over a week.
Here are the final results from West Virginia:
|Place||Player||Score||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Total|
|T4||Billy Hurley III||-9||68||63||67||73||271|
|T26||Ted Potter, Jr.||-5||70||70||68||67||275|
|T35||Davis Love III||-4||67||73||65||71||276|
|T52||Charles Howell III||-2||67||71||68||72||278|
|T57||Tyrone van Aswegen||-1||67||70||72||70||279|
|T64||Brendon de Jonge||E||70||69||68||73||280|