OAKMONT, Pa. — Angel Cabrera hit all the right shots to hold off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk by a stroke on a Sunday of survival at the U.S. Open, shooting a 1-under-par 69 at brutal Oakmont and giving Argentina its first major championship in 40 years.
And for the second straight major, Woods played in the final group and couldn’t deliver in the clutch.
Woods squandered birdie chances with his wedge and his putter, and Furyk paid for a risky choice of driver on the 306-yard 17th hole and fell out of the lead with a bogey.
That left Cabrera as the winner, and yes, he signed for the right score.
The only other Argentine to win a major was Roberto de Vicenzo in the 1967 British Open at Hoylake. He was equally famous for signing for the wrong score a year later at the Masters, keeping him out of a playoff.
“It is very difficult to describe at the moment,” an elated Cabrera said. “Probably tomorrow, when I wake up with this trophy beside me, I will realize I won the U.S. Open.”
Cabrera made his share of mistakes — everyone did on this brutally tough course outside Pittsburgh — but he overcame late bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes with a perfect tee shot and a par that gave him the victory.
Even so, this major will be remembered for gaffes by the guys chasing him.
Woods, a runner-up to unheralded Zach Johnson at the Masters, played the final 32 holes at Oakmont with only one birdie. He missed a birdie putt from 6 feet on the 13th, and the only clutch putts he made on the back nine were for par.
“He put a lot of pressure on Jim and I, and we didn’t get it done,” said Woods, who closed with a 72 and extended his dubious streak of never winning a major when he wasn’t leading going into the final round.
Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who grew up in western Pennsylvania, ran off three straight birdies on the back nine and was tied for the lead when he opted to hit driver on the 17th, where the tees were moved up. He hit so far and enough left that he had no angle to the pin, and the lie was so deep that he didn’t even reach the green. His 8-foot par putt caught the lip and spun away. Needing birdie on the final hole, Furyk dropped the club after contact, and his long putt never had a chance.
Cabrera, who had two of just eight sub-par rounds in the tournament and finished at 5-over 285, was in the clubhouse watching two of the best players in golf try to catch him.
As poorly as Woods hit the ball in the final round, he only needed one birdie over his final three holes to force a playoff. Woods hit 3-wood off the 17th tee into a deep bunker, but he couldn’t keep it on the green and had to make a 7-footer for par.
His tee shot on the 18th looked good when it left his club, but hopped along the line of first cut and deep rough, and his approach ran some 30 feet by the flag. His birdie putt was just long and right, and Woods again was the last man to leave the 18th green at a major, no trophy in hand.
Cabrera might not have been the winner anyone expected, especially at Oakmont, which has produced U.S. Open champions of the highest caliber. But he earned his victory against the best.
Cabrera delivered a 1-2-3 knockout during a difficult week. A birdie on his final hole Friday caused second-ranked Phil Mickelson to miss the cut in a major for the first time in eight years, and he was even stronger down the stretch with Woods and Furyk, No. 1 and No. 3 in the world, both poised to catch him.
He blew a chance to win the esteemed BMW Championship in Europe last month by topping a tee shot on the back nine, and Cabrera showed signs of a struggle late in the afternoon when he three-putted for bogey on the 16th and missed the 17th green with a wedge from the fairway to drop into a tie for the lead with Furyk.
“He just kept himself calm,” caddie Eddie Gardino said. “He might go and win the British Open, because he knows he can do it.”
Furyk went 70-70 on the weekend, and still had to settle for another silver medal for finishing tied for second. A year ago, he missed a 6-foot par putt on the final hole at Winged Foot and finished one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.