Cabrera fires record 64 to lead Nedbank

BY | Southern Africa Tour | 2005 Nedbank Golf Challenge | Round Two | 03 Dec 2005
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So what now Gary? That was the question at Sun City on Friday night after Argentine Gaucho Angel Cabrera blasted his way to an implausible eight-under-par 64 in the second round of the 2005 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Cabrera’s pyrotechnics carried him into a two-stroke lead over overnight leader Darren Clarke at the halfway stage of the 25th “Million Dollar” tournament and probably left Gary Player shaking his head in amazement that such a score was possible over his significantly toughened up course.

More length and deeper bunkers have confounded the players in the last two years but on Friday Cabrera, the longest hitter on the European Tour, simply overpowered the course to card a score three shots better than Clarke’s opening 67.

The macho Gaucho’s 64 will become the new course record given the changes made to the course – surpassing a 61 (with placing) by Padraig Harrington in the third round in 2001 and 63s by Ernie Els (4th round 2002) and Sergio Garcia (4th round 2001).

Other 64s have been recorded by Nick Faldo (2nd round 1994), Jim Furyk (4th round 1998), Darren Clarke 3rd round 1999), Ernie Els (3rd round 1999), Colin Montgomerie (3rd round 2000) and John Huston (3rd round 2000) but given the severity of the new configuration Cabrera’s score is arguably the best.

After a birdie, birdie start Cabrera, who at 37 hardly cuts the picture of a muscular super athlete, built his score on such awesome power-hitting that even Ernie Els was surprised to hear of just how far a Titleist Pro-V1x can really go.

Two of Cabrera’s birdies came after missed eagle putts – both were set up by 8-iron approaches to the par-five 9th and the par-five 14th. And that’s not a misprint; eight-irons to reach holes which, with where the tees were placed, measured about 520 metres. Even though Cabrera probably hits his eight-iron further than most, do the arithmetic – even if he was able to hit the iron club near the 200m mark the drives would still have to have been well over 300 metres!

He possesses a long, languid swing, obviously copied from his heroes Roberto de Vicenzo and Eduardo Romero, and generates his immense power with surprisingly little effort.

On Friday he birdied all four the par fives and had a run of four successive birdies through the turn as he carded loops of 33, 31. Incredibly he made nine birdies in his first 15 holes (with a dropped shot at the short 4th); failing to convert good chances to go even lower at the last three holes.

It has to be said though that a course set up for day two with longer tees but easier pin positions than in the first round played markedly easier. Whereas the field were collectively nine under par in the opening round the number improved to 27 under on day two as the players came to terms with the pace of the greens.

Cabrera may have been the man of the moment but the halfway marked showed 10 of the field within seven strokes of the lead and determined to go out hard in Saturday’s third round, known as the “moving round” among the pros, to be part of the shooting party on Sunday.

Massive swings of fortune are always a possibility on the Gary Player course – as graphically illustrated by a crushing seven run up by Ernie Els at the par four 13th.

Els drove in the left-hand rough, hit a thorn tree with his second, was forced to play back-handed for his third shot, only to double-hit the ball, and finally got onto the green in five and two-putted for a triple bogey.

Darren Clarke, who appeared to become tired towards the end of his round, is Cabrera’s closest pursuer with Luke Donald and Jim Furyk three shots off the pace.

Retief Goosen, whose expression and general dissatisfaction told of a man shooting a pair of 80s, rather than the 70, 69 he did, is four behind while Adam Scott, Tim Clark, Els (in spite of that seven), Chris DiMarco and Sergio Garcia could, with a hot third round, move into a position to challenge for victory.

Source – Nedbank Challenge

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