AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods has his Sunday red. Angel Cabrera prefers yellow.
Cabrera wore the same color shirt when he won the U.S. Open at Oakmont two years ago, and it was his color of choice when he won his two biggest tournaments on the European Tour – the Benson & Hedges in 2002 and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2005.
It blended nicely with Masters Green, the official color of the jacket at Augusta National.
But with green also comes gold.
Ping Golf, which has sponsored the Argentine for 15 years, has a tradition of giving a solid gold version of the putter used in major championship victories. This will be Cabrera’s second gold putter.
Ping founder Karsten Solheim long ago built a vault to store gold-plated replicas of every putter used in a tour victory, with the player also getting a gold-plated putter. When his son, John Solheim, took over as president in 1995, he put his own touch on tradition by awarding every major champion (male and female) a solid gold putter.
Ping spokesman Pete Samuels said the cost depends on the type of putter and the cost of gold.
As for shipping costs?
“We usually hand-deliver those,” he said with a laugh.
That Cabrera would get a solid gold putter only makes sense for his Masters victory.
Asked about the key shot that won him the U.S. Open, Cabrera was adamant that it was his driver, particularly the tee shot on the 18th hole at Oakmont that set up a safe par on a daunting hole. He won by one shot over Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.
Augusta National has its own tradition of asking the Masters champion to donate one club he found the most significant in victory.
“It has to be the putter,” said his caddie, Ruben “Gordo” Yorio.
Cabrera got into the playoff with a nervy 4-footer on the 18th hole, then made an 8-footer to save par on the 18th again to stay alive in the playoff. Easily overlooked is the putt that made all this possible – an 18-footer for birdie on No. 16 after Kenny Perry nearly made a hole-in-one to seemingly take control of the Masters.
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TIGER PERSPECTIVE: Jack Nicklaus (six Masters titles) and Arnold Palmer (four) played a practice round at Augusta National in 1996 with 20-year-old Tiger Woods and predicted that he would win more green jackets than both of them combined.
Woods won four times in nine years, but now has gone four years without winning the Masters, the longest drought of his career.
What does that mean? Not much.
Nicklaus won the Masters three times in his five years, then went five years before he won his fourth green jacket. He had five Masters after his 14th year as a pro (Woods is in his 13th year).
Woods is still on track to break Nicklaus’ record at Augusta National, but that prediction of 10 is not looking as good as it once did.
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MEMORIAL SKINS: For players who believe the best pro-ams on the PGA Tour have only two amateurs, nothing can beat the Memorial. Tournament host Jack Nicklaus is bringing back his “Double Skins Game” for the first time in six years to replace the pro-am.
The Double Skins Game is a nine-hole competition among two sets of four PGA Tour players – the top six players available from last year’s money list and two wild cards, one of those being Nicklaus.
The purse is $100,000 – $50,000 for each foursome, half of the money going to charity. Players will wear microphones so fans can listen to the banter in each group.
“I’ve always enjoyed the skins format, whether as a competitor or an observer, and this year we hope folks in central Ohio will have fun watching this unique competition,” Nicklaus said.
Among those expected to play include defending champion Kenny Perry and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington. Also likely to play is Tiger Woods, who has only missed the Memorial when he was recovering from knee surgery or coping with his father’s death.
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BOO’S HAT TRICK: Boo Weekley is the two-time defending champion at the Verizon Heritage this week at Hilton Head, the only event he has won on the PGA Tour.
If he were to win this week, Weekley would join some obscure company.
According to Dave Lancer of the PGA Tour, the last player to make the same tournament his first three victories on the PGA Tour was Leonard Gullett, who captured the Wisconsin PGA in 1929, 1933 and 1934.
That doesn’t include winners of the majors before the PGA was formed in 1916.
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DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson finished one shot ahead of Tiger Woods at the Masters, the first time he had done that in a major since the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. … The first Ryder Cup points for the U.S. team were awarded at the Masters, with Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell each receiving 660 points. Points are awarded only at majors this year for the 2010 team. Perry and Campbell received what is comparable to a runner-up finish on the PGA Tour next year. … Lost during the hype that comes with Masters week, the Shell Houston Open had a 2.7 rating in the final round, up 42 percent from the previous year and higher than an NBA game (Phoenix-Dallas) that was broadcast at the same time. It also dwarfed the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, with a rating of 0.8 on CBS. … Louise Suggs has been selected for the Gold Tee Award, given by New York’s Metropolitan Golf Writers Association for career achievements. She will be honored June 16 at its 58th awards dinner.
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STAT OF THE WEEK: Angel Cabrera joined Gary Player as the only foreign-born players to win the Masters and U.S. Open.
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FINAL WORD: “When they put the green jacket on, I had goose bumps. I was shaking. I can’t even explain what was going through my body.” – Angel Cabrera.