published Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Rust brushed away

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Angel Cabrera didn’t want to stash away his golf from August to January.

A doctor told him to.

Tendinitis in a wrist kept flaring up, and the only solution turned out to be basic rest, which resulted in a heavy dose of golf-watching as a side effect.

“I had a problem in the left wrist and I wanted to come back,” Cabrera said through a translator. “So it’s not that I didn’t want to play. I was told by a doctor.”

But rest made the 2009 Masters champion rusty. He tied for 71st, tied for 49th and then missed the cut in three of his next four events, including last week at the Shell Houston Open.

He plodded through the first two days of the Masters at 3 under par.

Then Saturday he regained the form and confidence that allowed him to win the 2007 U.S. Open and two years later to prevail in a playoff over Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry at Augusta National.

Cabrera shot a 5-under 67 and climbed to a final-round pairing with leader Rory McIlroy, who is four shots clear of Cabrera, Charles Schwartzel, K.J. Choi and Jason Day.

“I think the confidence was the key,” Cabrera said. “The first two days I was hitting it OK, but I lacked that confidence, and today I had it and trusted it and it made a big difference.”

Saturday’s results were different than Cabrera’s experience in Houston. He spent last Saturday working on the range with swing coach Charlie Epps for about three hours.

“I missed the cut at Houston,” Cabrera said. “I had to keep working, so I just went to the range and hit three hours worth of golf balls.”

The extra effort finally paid dividends early Saturday afternoon.

He birdied Nos. 2, 7 and 9 to make the turn at 3 under. A bogey on 10 slowed his momentum before he rolled in birdie putts on 12 — after sticking it to within six feet with a pitching wedge — 13 and 15.

Cabrera, the first Masters winner from South America, is now four strokes and 18 holes away from taking a second green jacket to Argentina.

“Now that I see that I’m playing well,” Cabrera said, “I sure think I can do it.”

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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