Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cabrera victory press conference

Here are highlights from Angel Cabrera's victory press conference, with a translator...

USGA: It is a pleasure to welcome the 107th United States Open Champion, Angel Cabrera. Angel, round of 1-under par 69 today, 285 for the championship. Could you tell us what it means to you to be the first United States Open Champion from Argentina?

ANGEL CABRERA: It's definitely a very difficult situation to describe. You are not the U.S. Open Champion like every day, so it's very difficult to describe at the moment.

USGA: Would you share with us a little bit what your thoughts were as you were sitting and watching Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods finish their rounds on the 18th green.

ANGEL CABRERA: I was there sitting, waiting. I knew that I could do no more to lower my score, so I was only waiting and hoping that it was going to be a win.

Q. Can you talk about the shot you made to the green on 15?

ANGEL CABRERA: It was a very impressive shot. It was a 9-iron from 160 yards, and it was very impressive. (Laughter).

Q. What brand of cigarettes did you smoke and does that help you settle down?

ANGEL CABRERA: (Laughing) Well, there are some players that have psychologists, sportologists; I smoke. (Laughter).

Q. What brand? What brand?

ANGEL CABRERA: I don't want to say the brand but they are short 72s, they are called, short cigarettes.

Q. Have you been in contact with Eduardo Romero this week and how do you think he feels about this championship?

ANGEL CABRERA: I haven't been around Eduardo, but I am definitely sure that he's very happy about this win, and, well, he's a very close friend of mine.

Q. You never missed the cut in the U.S. Open; what makes you so good in this tournament?

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, well, I definitely usually play very well in the U.S. Open. Most of the time I'm not making any putts, but this week it was like everybody was missing the putts. So that gave me an advantage.

Q. I have actually two; one, I'm wondering how many cigarettes you went through today and that 50-minute wait from when you finished up and went inside, how stressful was that wait, watching on television?

ANGEL CABRERA: I usually smoke between eight to ten cigarettes in a round and this round was not special about the number of cigarettes; it was more or less the same. And the wait, it was tough, because I was nervous.

Q. How disappointed were you with the 76 on Saturday, and did you fear that you shot yourself out of the tournament?

ANGEL CABRERA: I shot 76 and I thought that I still had chances; that if I scored low on the final round, I would be able to win it.

Q. Two questions. One, coming off a bogey on 16, bogey on 17, what pressure were you feeling standing on the tee on 18? If you're understanding me, why aren't you answering this in English? (Laughter).

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, definitely making bogey on those holes made me feel nervous. But, well, I knew that I had to hit a good drive to make par on the 18th hole and sit and wait. I don't speak much English because -- I understand, but I'm not fluent enough, so I feel that I cannot be myself.

Q. I just wonder if you can tell us the story of how you took up golf. There was a mention of Eduardo wanting you to play when you were 15, but I wonder if you can share in your words how you started playing this game.

ANGEL CABRERA: I started as a caddie when I was ten years old in Cordoba Golf Club, my home club, and they allowed caddies to play on Mondays, when I started playing golf, and I turned pro when I was 20 years old.

Q. Name of the club again?

ANGEL CABRERA: Cordoba Golf Club.

Q. What brand of cigarettes do you smoke and how does it help you?

ANGEL CABRERA: (Shaking head. ) I smoke.

Q. 40 years ago, Roberto DeVincenzo beat the best player in the world to win the Open Championship at Hoylake. You beat the best player in the world to win the U.S. Open Championship. How do those accomplishments compare?

ANGEL CABRERA: Yeah, definitely I don't want to compare because comparisons sometimes are not so good. But the good thing is that I beat everybody here, not only Tiger Woods.

Q. After you birdied 15, did you stand on 16 tee knowing you had a two-shot lead? And then go through your nerves and the shot selection on 16 and 17.

ANGEL CABRERA: I knew that even though I had birdie on 15, that I had to play very well the last three holes because the last three holes, you can birdie or bogey them, so I had to keep concentrated and try to make the lowest score possible on those three holes.

Q. You have six Top-10 finishes in majors previously; did you take anything from those majors, maybe draw on that today in this round or in this tournament?

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, the more you play in a major, it gives you a lot more experience. It helps you accomplish great things.

Q. You said you beat the best player in the world and the rest of the field, but you also beat a very, very difficult golf course. In this last round, were there ever any moments for you where you said, "What are they trying to do"?

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, definitely I was able to beat the best player and the best players here, but I wasn't able to beat the golf course. The golf course beat me.

Q. Who taught you how to play golf, and did you ever have any professional teachers?

ANGEL CABRERA: I never had a professional coach. I've always had people getting close to me and giving me one advice or two, but never had a coach.

Q. I wonder if anybody has had a moment to reflect on your impact on children in South America and Hispanic-speaking children in America? It seems now with this victory they have someone to focus on as a hero and a role model; could you comment on that? It seems very exciting.

ANGEL CABRERA: I don't want to set an example. I just want to do things right so that people can imitate and follow. And definitely this is going to be something to be remembered in Latin America, not only in Argentina, but also in Latin America and probably some other places in the world.

Q. Can you talk about your childhood; how humble was the place that you grew up, and did you have to quit school to raise money for the family? And also, I read something where you didn't learn to read or write until later in your childhood.

ANGEL CABRERA: I wasn't able to finish elementary school. Also, I had to work as a caddie to put some food on the table, so that's why probably these moments are enjoyed even more than the common things, yes.

Q. You strike me as a very private person.

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, I am private. I have friends but it's not a big group of friends. I try to remain, you know, as private as possible.

Q. But was golf and becoming successful at golf important to you, to not only help yourself, but to help your family? Were you motivated by the fact that you knew you could have a career in the game and take care of the people you love?

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, I couldn't do anything else. I definitely had to play golf to make a living, to feed my kids and wife. So I just feel that I have no other option.

Q. What will you do to celebrate?

ANGEL CABRERA: I don't know exactly how I'm going to celebrate, but definitely I will at some point later on tonight.

Q. Can I have an invitation?

ANGEL CABRERA: You're invited. (Laughter).

Q. Why are there so many good golfers from Argentina?

ANGEL CABRERA: There are so many opportunities for caddies to play in Argentina, even though they are private golf clubs, they allow the caddies to play. This is something that helps boost the careers of the caddies and they usually turn pro. 90 percent of the great golfers of Argentina have been caddies.

Q. I want to know, if you looked at the leaderboards today, and was there a particular point in your round where you realized you were at least tied for the lead today?

ANGEL CABRERA: It's impossible not to see them because they are so big that you cannot miss them. You have to look at them.

Q. Just talk a little bit about what kind of town you grew up in; was it a small town or big town, and what do people do in that town?

ANGEL CABRERA: It's a middle-class kind of town with a population of 30,000, and that's pretty much it.

Q. Which players do you hang out with on The European Tour, and are you playing the Scottish Open this year and do you think it will be an easier week or a tougher week?

ANGEL CABRERA: Well, Carnoustie where the British Open is going to be played, is going to be absolutely difficult, so we have to work very hard to make a good score over there.

Q. I meant the Scottish Open, not the British. And who do you hang out with in Europe?

ANGEL CABRERA: Yes, I'm going to be playing the Scottish Open. I usually hang out with the other Argentines that are playing on The European Tour. There are like ten other players that are members of The European Tour.

Q. I was just wondering, how is this victory going to be viewed in Argentina, and will this knock Manu Ginobili off the page for a day or two?

ANGEL CABRERA: Ginobili is still going to be there on the front pages because he has accomplished things that no other Argentine has. What I have done has already been done by DeVincenzo, so what he has done will be more recognized.

Q. As a result of this win, do you qualify for the FedExCup? And how likely are you to spend more time playing on the American tour?

ANGEL CABRERA: I'm not going to change my schedule, and so I'm going to keep on playing the events that I had planned to play. I'm eligible for the FedExCup.

Q. Do you consider yourself one of the best ball-strikers in the world, and if so, to what do you attribute your gift?

ANGEL CABRERA: No, I don't consider myself like being the best-ball striker. Everybody that is here playing and on the Top-50 in the World Ranking are excellent ball-strikers. So it's difficult for me to say that I am the best ball-striker.

Q. Congratulations, Angel. How much influence has Roberto DeVincenzo had on your career, and are there any players in particular that you looked up to most growing up?

ANGEL CABRERA: DeVincenzo was not much of an inspiration for me because I wasn't able to watch DeVincenzo. When he won the British Open, I was not even born. So, yes, I looked to Eduardo Romero, Fernandez; those are the Argentinians that I followed.

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