Mitchell: Masterful Sportsmanship
Angel Cabrera (r) with Brandt Snedeker Sunday
Angel Cabrera (r) with Brandt Snedeker Sunday
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 15, 2013


On Sunday at the Masters, Angel Cabrera taught a generation how to compete with ferocity regardless one's age, but more importantly, how to do so without sacrificing honor or grace.

By Russ Mitchell

Until now, I have never written a column on golf. That is not to say there has been a lack of fantastic athleticism, spellbinding tension or storylines to make a sportswriter grin. I have simply never been moved to write on a sport that is largely uninteresting to me.

Until now.

In falling to Adam Scott at this year’s Masters, Angel Cabrera carried himself as the full embodiment of a champion from start to gut-wrenching end. Along the way, the Argentinian repeatedly demonstrated that competition and sportsmanship are far from mutually exclusive, but are rather the best of neighbors...if not of the same blood.

For any observer of modern sport, watching it unfold was like a tall glass of cold water for a parched soul.

SKILL MARRIED WITH NERVE

Cabrera’s approach shot on the 72nd hole, the final of regulation, mere minutes after Scott’s clutch birdie putt took the lead, will be remembered for its brutal efficiency as long as there are fans of the sport. A brilliant display of skill married with nerve.

Yet once again, immediately after the ball came to rest a few feet from the hole, it was Cabrera’s smile and poise with his fellow competitors that stood out most, as he finished his tournament and prepared for the playoff with Scott.

It is true that Adam and Angel have known each other for years – have actually competed together as teammates in international competition. And to his credit, Scott himself displayed a great deal of sportsmanship throughout the tournament and the playoff; but he was ultimately the winner, with which comes the responsibility of sportsmanship.

Rather, it was Angel’s grace throughout the final round, but especially during the playoff and in crushing defeat, which resonated as clearly as the weather itself was dim.

From his congratulating Scott on the latter's heroic birdie putt on 18, to his many smiles shared with opponents this week at Augusta National, to his thumbs up following Scott’s approach shot on the second playoff hole that would ultimately be his own doom…

Cabrera never once slipped from the position of leader – even if his score fell below that of others.

LEGACY

The term legacy is thrown around today with a casual frequency unbecoming its definition. But Sunday evening I saved the last few holes of this Masters tournament. I burned it onto a disc, just as it was seared into the minds of those who enjoyed it unfold before them like the first new fruit of spring.

For on this damp April afternoon, Angel Cabrera taught a generation how to compete with ferocity regardless one's age, but more importantly, how to do so without sacrificing honor or grace. At times challenging his opponents with an icy, calculating determination, without losing sight of his good spirit or humanity.

Years from now, long after Angel has returned to dust, there will be countless people the world over that will remember the example of sportsmanship he embodied on Sunday at the Masters. There will be those like me that will use his example for a new generation too young to grasp its significance today.

Even for a professional golfer, this is a legacy far greater than another green jacket...nor is it difficult to believe that Cabrera is already well aware of this fact.

A champion’s champion.


Follow me @russmitchellcfb