Even hecklers cannot sway the International star’s focus.
Two-time major winner Angel Cabrera answered hecklers by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt to help the Internationals keep pressure on the United States on Friday at the Presidents Cup.
Argentina’s Cabrera, the 2007 US Open and 2009 Masters champion, and Australian partner Marc Leishman were 1-up after 13 holes on Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker when darkness halted their alternate-shot foursomes match.
A storm had stopped play for two hours and 36 minutes, forcing the finish to Saturday morning ahead of five scheduled four-balls and five more foursomes matches.
The Americans led 4 1/2-3 1/2 with four matches needing to be finished Saturday morning. The US and International teams each led two matches, but Cabrera and Leishman had the slimmest margin.
“We need to finish this one off four ourselves and the team,” Leishman said. “It will be really good momentum for us if we can get across the line and there’s no reason why not.”
A major reason they had the lead was because Cabrera made his clutch putt at the par-3 12th.
“He was over his ball for the first time and there were a few people yelling out,” Leishman said. “The second time he was over it they yelled a bit closer to when he was about to take it away.
“The third time he was over it, someone yelled out really loudly, probably a split second before he was going to take the putter away. It was a pretty big distraction for him.
“He walked away, got his composure and rolled it in and then turned around and fist-pumped right at them. It was pretty satisfying for him. It’s something I think that fires him up. So it was great that he could roll it in.”
Cabrera, nicknamed “El Pato” or “The Duck” for the way he walks, had most of the US-supportive crowd cheering when his putt dropped in.
“The last time they just yelled out “Pato” really loud and even the American crowd was on our side,” Leishman said. “They were trying to get him to shut his mouth. He did.
“And then probably the biggest cheer of the week was for us when he rolled that putt in.”
Simpson and Snedeker won the second hole with a birdie but took a bogey at six to fall all square with Cabrera and Leishman until the Aussie sank an eight-foot birdie putt at 11 and Cabrera made his emotional birdie.
A bogey for the global duo in the twilight trimmed their match edge to only 1-up.
“Hopefully we can come out in the morning and make some birdies and finish it off,” Leishman said. “And hopefully we can do some damage in the four-ball.”
The Internationals stayed one point back after a US win by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley when South African Ernie Els and Zimbabwe’s Brendan de Jonge beat Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas 4 and 3.
Els noted a rowdy crowd at the 10th hole after the storm delay.
“There were a lot of distractions going on out there,” four-time major winner Els said. “It was crazy on that green. We had fanatics on this side and the US side was on this side and they were going at each other and in between we were trying to play golf.”
But as with Cabrera, the noise seemed to bring out the best in the players.
“Hunter made a 30-footer down the hill, so you can imagine the crowd,” Els said. “Then Brendon had a 12-footer for birdie and made it on top of that, so that was a really big swing.”