JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Defending Masters champion Angel Cabrera plans to give 100 friends who can’t attend the Champions Dinner a preview taste of what they will be missing.
Cabrera is hosting a “preview dinner” on March 29 at the Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Houston that will feature the menu– yes, plenty of meat from the Argentine– that former Masters champions will be sampling a week later at Augusta National.
“There’s not a golfer in the world who wouldn’t want to attend that dinner,” said Charlie Epps, his Houston-based swing coach.
It started with Cabrera wanting to raise money for his foundation, which he created two months before his 2007 U.S. Open victory at Oakmont. The foundation helps improve the quality for needy people in his hometown of Cordoba, including the welfare of caddies, and helps fund the local hospital.
“There’s so many fundraisers that we needed a new idea to get people excited,” Epps said.
Epps invited 100 associates who are paying $1,000 each to get a night with Cabrera, capped off with a dinner like no other. Ping, his longtime equipment sponsor, plans to bring its tour van so guests can test equipment (and receive a putter). Cabrera will conduct a clinic, give everyone an autographed Masters flag, and then the dinner bell rings.
On a conference call Tuesday, Cabrera was asked if he had given any thought to his menu at the Masters.
“There’s not a lot to think about,” he replied through a translator. “A good Argentine ‘asado.’ Some good beef.”
Epps said asado is a popular Argentine barbecue, and the menu will feature a five-meat course, including filets, short ribs and sausages, including one known as “morcilla.”
“There won’t be a lot of carbohydrates at this dinner,” said Epps, who grew up in Argentina.
There will be salad and bread to dip in a sauce that Cabrera will make himself, along with plenty of Argentine wine and music.
CAP AND GOWN: Ryo Ishikawa has shown poise and polish beyond his years in winning four times last year, along with his performance in the Match Play Championship. A reminder of his youth comes next week at Doral, which the 18-year-old Japanese golfer won’t play.
But the “bashful prince” has a good excuse: He’s graduating from high school.
Ishikawa, who won his first Japan Golf Tour event as a 15-year-old amateur, will go through his graduation ceremony from Suginami Gakuin on March 8, the Monday of the World Golf Championship.
BARTLETT AWARD: Ernie Els has been selected to receive the Charlie Bartlett Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for unselfish contributions to society.
The three-time major champion for more than a decade has been helping South African children from families of limited means get access to education and golf opportunities. Those kids include Louis Oosthuizen and James Kamte, each of whom played in majors last year.
Els has received more notoriety of late with the Els for Autism Foundation and the Els Center for Excellence. He has become a passionate advocate for autism since his 7-year-old son, Ben, was diagnosed as a toddler. He and his wife, Leizl, are trying to raise $30 million for the center in West Palm Beach, Fla., which will combine education, therapy and research for autistic children.
Els will be honored April 7 in Augusta, Ga., at the GWAA annual awards dinner.
RICKIE ON THE RISE: Rickie Fowler earned $875,431 on the West Coast Swing and achieved the first goal of his rookie season by securing his PGA Tour card for next year.
The next step is getting into a World Golf Championship. Fowler, who is playing the Honda Classic this week, is No. 13 in the FedEx Cup standings and would need to finish no worse than ninth to crack the top 10 in the standings and get into Doral.
His first trip to Augusta National is a little tougher. Fowler’s only chance at the Masters would be to win a PGA Tour event or to get into the top 50 in the world ranking after the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Fowler is at No. 77, but his divisor will remain at the minimum 40 tournaments. He is assured of getting into Bay Hill because of the FedEx Cup standings.
RESHUFFLE: PGA Tour rookie Brian Stuard is in the Honda Classic. Jay Williamson is not. Both can attribute that to the West Coast Swing, in which Stuard did enough right to move up from No. 39 to No. 5 in the priority list of Q-School and Nationwide grads.
The list was reshuffled heading to the Florida Swing, with Rickie Fowler leading the list. He is followed by Alex Prugh, who had three consecutive top-10s to move up from No. 30.
The reshuffle gives those players better chances of getting into tournaments at the Honda Classic, Transitions Championship at Innisbrook and the Houston Open before the next reshuffle.
Williamson started out at No. 21 and fell 13 spots, leaving him as the second alternate at the Honda Classic.
LPGA GROWING: The LPGA now has 25 official tournaments on its 2010 schedule, up from 23 at the start of the year. The latest addition is the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, to be held Oct. 22-24 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
The Malaysian event ideally kicks off the fall version of its Far East swing. It will be held one week before the LPGA China, with the Mizuno Classic in Japan a week later. The China tournament still doesn’t have a sponsor or a golf course and was not held a year ago.
The LPGA Malaysia will be a 60-player field (50 from the LPGA money list) with no cut over 54 holes. That means both tournaments added this year– the other is the Match Play Championship in New Jersey– have limited fields.
FINAL WORD: “Obviously, I want Tiger to be there. He’s the best. When he’s there, he makes tournaments special.”– Masters champion Angel Cabrera when asked if he would like to see Tiger Woods at Augusta National this year.