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08th Apr 2021

Cabrera and Woods miss their Champions Dinner as biggest week in golf kicks off

Niall McIntyre

The US Masters begins on Thursday but the festivities have been going on since Monday.

Practice rounds and par three tournaments, generally, ensure that Augusta National is a hive of activity for this holiest of April weeks. Amongst golfing royalty, there is no congregation as holy as the Champions dinner which, in its realm of exclusivity, takes place each Masters Tuesday.

There was almost a sombre tone to the usually joyous celebration this time around, with the golfing greats paying homage to their sidelined colleague Tiger Woods. Past champs told stories and relived memories about one of the greatest ever to pick up a club, with a chair left vacant in his honour, as he recovers from injuries sustained from his Los Angeles car accident of last month.

98-year-old Jackie Burke Jr. was another past champ who didn’t make it to the table, missing out on the pigs in blankets and fillet steak served up during Dustin Johnson’s celebration, but another more recent champ was much more conspicuous in his absence and didn’t receive anywhere near the same adulation.

Instead of basking in the glories of past triumphs, Argentina’s two-time major champ Angel Cabrera spent the day in his prison cell in Brazil. It was earlier this year when the 2009 winner was arrested, with a total of three ex-partner’s having alleged charges of domestic abuse against him. One of the charges, filed by Cecilia Torres Mana, contains the allegation that Cabrera had tried to run her over with a car.

The 51-year-old’s trial was ongoing when, as opposed to its conditions, Cabrera travelled abroad with the intention of playing in the Senior Players Championship in Akron, Ohio. Interpol soon issued an alert and Cabrera has been in prison since, the resumption of his trial pending.

It certainly marks a huge fall from grace for a once iconic player, who with his seemingly laid back demeanour and grip-it-and-rip-it style, became a fan-favourite in the golfing fraternity. His 2007 US Open triumph and 2009 Augusta win certainly seem a long time ago now, as Cabrera prepares for a life far removed from his sporting glories.

Staying in Georgia, the famous tournament begins this evening with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy among those vying to take the green jacket off Dustin Johnson’s back. From an Irish perspective, Shane Lowry has also been rounding into a bit of form recently with the Offaly man hoping for a good showing at a tournament he has struggled at in the past.

Bring on one of the most eagerly anticipated weeks in sport.

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