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Where Angel Dares

2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- The 107th United States Open is history now. And Argentinas Angel Cabrera has defeated all of the 155 other competitors to win the Championship.
Oakmont Country Club, meanwhile, won the week.
So, the question begs, who won here, in the battle for intergalactic golf supremacy: Cabrera or Oakmont?
Im going to call it a draw. And thats being generous to both.
It is very difficult to describe this moment, Cabrera said, through an interpreter, moments after Woods missed a long putt on the last hole that would have forced a playoff. Probably tomorrow when I wake up with this trophy beside me in my bed, I will realize that I have won the U.S. Open.
Cabreras 72-hole total was 5-over par 285, the same winning score as last years U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Cabreras closing 69 edged Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods by one shot. Furyk is the last American to win the U.S. Open (2003 at Olympia Fields). Woods is the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
And by the way, in case you didnt notice, the members of the grounds crew at Oakmont paid quiet homage to Woods Sunday. Wearing different outfits each day, they saved their best for last: Red shirts.
That was not, a USGA official told me, an accident.
Perhaps they should have picked yellow. Turns out Cabrera always wears a yellow PING shirt in the final round. Why? Tigers red is Angels yellow, explained Cabreras caddie.
Finishing second, Woods said, is never fun.
Meanwhile golf and life goes on. Woods prepares to be a father for the first time in the coming weeks. And the USGA quickly moves on to its year around preparations for the U.S. Open.
On Tuesday USGA agronomist Tim Moraghan, set-up guy Mike Davis, and Jim Hyler of the Championship Committee will travel to San Diego to visit Torrey Pines South, site of next years championship.
There they will meet up with course architect Rees Jones, who authored the redesign of Torrey Pines South back in 2001. Among other things, this group will determine how long they want the rough to be next June.
Oakmont and Torrey Pines South are very different. For starters, Jones said Sunday, Oakmont has bluegrass rough, Torrey Pines has kikuyu grass rough.
Jones also said Torrey Pines South will probably play firmer and faster than Oakmont but the greens wont be as fast. He also said trees, unlike at Oakmont, will come into play on many holes. They will, Jones said, be a factor.
Theyve actually removed a lot of trees, Moraghan said. But, he added the Torrey Pine is a protected tree and can only be moved (not removed) by the USGA with permission from local authorities.
Oakmont averaged about 7,200 yards this week. Torrey Pines has new tees that can stretch it to 7,600 yards although Moraghan said he was not aware any decision had been made yet on how long Torrey Pines South will play. Like Oakmont, Torrey Pines will play to a par of 70.
Cabrera will be there. Wearing a yellow shirt. Woods was left Sunday wondering why he hasnt been able to win either of this years majors despite being in the final pairing. Meanwhile he still hasnt won a major without having at least a share of the lead after 54 holes.
The long-hitting Cabrera was born into extreme poverty. And when he was just two years old his mother left him with his grandmother who raised him.
Cabrera earned money caddying in Argentina which makes him, among other things, a Cinderella story. Eventually he would catchy the eye of Argentinean touring pro Eduardo Romero, who knows plays on the Champions Tour.
Romeros nickname was El Gato. The Cat. Cabrera became El Pato. The Duck. Cabreras skill and feisty spirit impressed Romero so much that he entered into a 10-year contract with Cabrera.
Romeros part of the deal was to pay Cabreras expenses. In return Cabrera paid Romeros 10 per cent of his earnings. When the deal expired in 2004, Cabrera was glad and Romero was much richer.
Now Cabrera, a free agent of sorts, has $1,260,000 American dollars that he doesnt have to share with anybody.
His goal Sunday on the golf course, he said, was to relax. Yes, he said. I have had a lot of bad moments on the golf course in my life and now I have decided to take this more easily.
All week long Oakmont treated players with lighter attitudes better than the grinders.
Now Angel Cabrera can really lighten up.

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