From green jacket to prison scrubs: But Angel Cabrera wants to resume golf career

For Australians, waking up early on Monday morning of Masters week to watch the final round is a ritual.

Given the country’s record of near misses at Augusta National, there’s been more than a few anti-heroes for sleepy-eyed followers in this part of the world, and they’ve usually involved denying Greg Norman the green jacket. Jack Nicklaus, Larry Mize, Nick Faldo.

Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera at his trial in Argentina in 2021.Credit:AP

How about Charl Schwartzel? The South African won The Masters in 2011, with four straight birdies to finish, no less. It had never been seen in the history of the tournament, denying Adam Scott and Jason Day, who finished in a tie for second. Do you think he’s done anything in a major since?

Yet for a burly South American who wrestled with a sense of Australia’s sporting fate one famous day in 2013, it seemed impossible to feel anything but admiration.

Argentina’s Angel Cabrera was the man who, moments after Scott yelled “C’mon Aussie” after sinking a putt on the 72nd hole he thought had won The Masters, stepped up and let rip on a seven-iron, begging it to “volar”, Spanish for fly. It flew alright, to within three feet of the hole and sent Scott back out for a play-off.

It was there that Australians begrudgingly realised they didn’t have another Masters anti-hero.

Cabrera turned around on the second play-off hole, in the most intense arena, and gave a thumbs up to Scott as a recognition of a shot the Australian now describes as best of his life. When Cabrera lost, he warmly embraced Scott, and said all the right things. It was genuine.

“To follow up one victory at Augusta with two [would have been memorable], but he was totally happy with Adam’s victory,” Cabrera’s longtime friend and coach Charlie Epps told the Herald this week. “He’s got a lot of respect for his fellow golfers. That’s Angel.”

But as Scott prepares to return to Augusta National 10 years on from his famous victory trying to win a second green jacket, Cabrera is trying to finish a jail sentence.

Initially imprisoned for assaulting, threatening and harassing a former partner between 2016 and 2018, local agencies reported he was sentenced to an additional two years and four months jail time late last year for assaulting another former girlfriend.

Adam Scott (left) and Angel Cabrera embrace after the 2013 Masters.Credit:AP

Cabrera has admitted he struggled with alcoholism in the years after his Masters duel with Scott, a far cry from his seemingly genial nature on the course, which included asking his son to be his caddie in the 2013 Masters.

Even still, he has told friends his intention is to resume his golf career once he’s released.

“It’s been a rough go,” Epps said. “He was in prison in Brazil and then Argentina. He’s weathered the storm and it’s taught him a couple of very important lessons. He’s admitted that.

“He’ll probably get out some time in the [northern hemisphere] summer and he’s already at a halfway house. He wants to continue his golf career, the good Lord willing. I always welcome him. We’re just waiting for him to come home.”

Cabrera had already won The Masters four years earlier before his showdown with Scott, who credits the former world No.9 with helping restore his own confidence after a career-worst year in 2009.

“I told him, ‘I haven’t forgotten what you said to me’,” Scott recalled this week after winning at Augusta in 2013. “To kind of have a guy like that who’s won a couple of majors wanting me to believe and do it myself, it was a nice thing to share and I have huge respect forever for him for doing that.”

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