Two holes-in-one Sunday. Two 61s this week. And yet Angel Cabrera – he of two major victories – had none of the above en route to winning the PGA Tour’s 2014 Greenbrier Classic, while George McNeill had one of each.
Second- and third-round leader Billy Hurley III faded with a 73 to miss out on the win, but earned a trip to Hoylake.
Here are 5 Things to know about the final round at White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.:
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1. FIRST NON-MAJOR: While Angel Cabrera had twice won major titles, Sunday’s performance gave him his first win otherwise on the PGA Tour. The Argentinian won the 2009 Masters and 2007 U.S. Open, but needed a 64-64 finish at age 44 to add a regular Tour event to his portfolio.
Cabrera scattered birdies on a bogey-free front nine to make the turn at 3 under for the day, then turned heads with a birdie-birdie-eagle stretch on the back – including a 2 on the par-4 13th as he sank his shot from 175 yards out. Back-to-back bogeys followed immediately, adding some drama, but a birdie at the 17th gave Cabrera a two-shot lead as he headed to the par-3 closing hole.
“He needed this, he’s been working hard and he’s very happy,” Cabrera’s instructor Charlie Epps told CBS in the role of interpreter. “He hit it very solid today, he was under control. It’s the work we’ve been doing the last few weeks – it paid off.”
The win is Cabrera’s first top-10 finish of the season. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, his second straight week with an MC, but bounced back with a T-11 at last month’s Travelers Championship.
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2. 61 FOR THE RUNNER-UP: George McNeill “left it all on the field,” as the cliche goes. A 61 with a hole-in-one? Tough to top. But even the seemingly flawless finale, matching the low round of the week, wasn’t enough.
Maybe it was the opening round of even-par 70 amid a week of going low; maybe it was the bogey on No. 15 Saturday before going 21 holes in a row without.
Whatever kept McNeill from the winner’s circle at Greenbrier, he can head to Royal Liverpool for the Open Championship with confidence. The solo-second finish gave McNeill his fourth top 10 of the season and first since March at the Valspar Championship.
McNeill made the turn in 28 thanks to four straight birdies immediately before his ace. He then carded three more birdies on the back, including at the 16th and 17th to play his last 21 holes in 10 under. Solid form, indeed.
As an aside, McNeill had been told before his round that his sister was on the verge of losing her battle with cancer. Golf Channel reported that his older sister, Michele McNeill, died of cancer Sunday morning and the player was informed after his round was over.
“Golf doesn’t really mean a whole lot,” McNeill told reporters. So it’s hard.”
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3. HIGH RANKINGS, MOSTLY HIGH FINISHES: It was a decent week for players at Greenbrier who started the event in the top 30 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Here’s a rundown:
- 4. Steve Stricker: T-35, 4 under (74 Sunday)
- 8. Bubba Watson: T-16, 7 under (69)
- 16. Webb Simpson: third, 10 under (63)
- 17. Bill Haas: T-23, 6 under (70)
- 18. Chris Kirk: T-45, 3 under (68)
- 19. Gary Woodland: 72nd, 3 over (75)
- 26. Keegan Bradley: T-4, 9 under (66)
- 27. Jimmy Walker: Missed cut
- 30. Brendon Todd: T-4, 9 under (66)
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4. TWIN ACES, PLUS BONUS: It took pinpoint precision with irons to get noticed Sunday at The Old White TPC. George McNeill looked like he’d hit the shot of the day at the eighth hole with his hole-in-one – then Bud Cauley matched the feat at the 18th. Not to be totally outdone, Cabrera holed out for eagle on the 13th fairway. Who needs a putter?
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5. OPEN QUALIFIERS: Four players qualified for the British Open this week at Greenbrier: McNeill, Hurley, Chris Stroud and Cameron Tringale. They join a handful from the European Tour’s French Open as well, won in come-from-behind fashion by Graeme McDowell.
– Associated Press contributed