FARMINGTON — One of professional golf’s bigger names, a two-time major championship winner, was roaming the fairways at Oakridge Country Club Thursday in the opening round of the Utah Championship. That might seem strange since the PGA Korn Ferry Tour is mostly made up of young up-and-coming golfers, but it also features older former champions such as Angel Cabrera.
Only a few people, perhaps 20, followed Cabrera, the 49-year-old Argentine who won the U.S. Open in 2007, the Masters in 2009 and lost in a playoff for the Masters title in 2013.
So why would someone like Cabrera, who grew up in poverty in South America before becoming a star professional golfer, come out to play in Utah for the first time on the Korn Ferry Tour after making $14.7 million in two decades on the PGA Tour?
Cabrera turns 50 in three months and is trying to get his competitive game sharpened up after losing his PGA exempt status three years ago before he joins the Champions Tour in September.
Cabrera has played just twice on the PGA Tour this year, missing the cut at the Puerto Rico Open and the Masters, where he can play for another decade or so. He’s played in four Korn Ferry events this year, missing the cut in the first three before finishing in a tie for 60th at the Rex Hospital Open in North Carolina earlier this month.
Only once all year has Cabrera finished with an under-par round, which he did Thursday at Oakridge with a 1-under-par 70.
Starting on the back nine, he began with a bogey, but came back with a pair of birdies to make the turn at 1-under. After dropping a stroke at No. 4, he made back-to-back birdies at 6 with a 5-foot putt and 7 with a two-putt birdie. Then at the par-4 eighth he hit a poor approach shot after missing the green and slammed his club in frustration and made bogey to finish with a 70 after a par on the final hole.
That left him in a tie for 29th place, well within range of making the cut for the weekend (low 60 and ties).
So what did Cabrera think about his round and playing in Utah?
We don't know. Turns out he doesn’t speak English, at least not well enough to want to talk with a reporter about it.
Cabrera tees off at 1 p.m. on Friday with leader Robert Garrigus.