Golf - Gutsy Cabrera falls inches short of second Masters title

Angel Cabrera came to Augusta ranked a lowly 269th but again showed tenacity before falling just short in a play-off loss to Adam Scott.

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Angel Cabrera (Reuters)

Cabrera, who won the 2007 US Open with Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in hot pursuit and captured the 2009 Masters in a three-way play-off, came up big in do-or-die moments in a thrilling, rain-drenched duel with Scott at Augusta National.

The burly 43-year-old Argentine, who plunged down golf's world rankings after struggling through health problems, forgot his troubles with another major crown within his grasp.

"The only one thing in my head was about winning," said Cabrera. "I like the challenges, and so these tournaments are very, very important for me. So sometimes they take my best out of me."

A pair of bogeys after the turn dropped Cabrera from top of the leaderboard, but he clawed back with a firm, 15-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th to tie Scott for the lead at eight under par.

When Scott, 32, drained a 25-foot putt for birdie in the group ahead of Cabrera to break their tie at the 72nd hole and roar in delight as he moved his score to nine under par, the Argentine responded.

With rain pouring down, he fired a perfect seven iron within three feet of the cup and matched Scott's birdie to force a sudden-death play-off, embracing his son Angel Cabrera Jr., who caddied for him.

He nearly ended the play-off when they played 18 again in the first extra hole, running a chip shot agonisingly close to the right edge of the cup, settling just a foot away.

They moved to the 10th hole for Round Two of their sudden-death battle, and both players reached the green in regulation.

Cabrera, was 18 feet away with Scott three feet closer.

The Argentine rolled his right-to-left birdie try with near perfection.

"I think it almost hit the edge of the hole," he said.

Scott buried his birdie putt in the heart of the hole and their high-stakes joust ended in a long hug between the two Presidents Cup team-mates.

"That's golf," Cabrera said. "Golf gives and takes. Sometimes you make those putts, sometimes you just miss them. But that's golf."

"I played very well both holes. I wasn't lucky, but I was very much into this play-off."

Cabrera, 43, has clawed his way back from a string of health problems since winning the green jacket in 2009 - from serious dental problems to tendinitis in his left wrist to minor surgery to repair a tear in his lower digestive system.

Still, the man who learned golf as a caddy in Cordoba grinds on.

"A lot of work and a lot of faith in myself," Cabrera said about his climb back to Masters contention. "I have a lot of confidence in myself, and so I'm going to keep on going."

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