In a stunning coincidence, Felix Sabates, the Charlotte businessman and racing entrepreneur, wins the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am lottery. Sabates can play with any pro whose partners have yet to be determined.
Who will he choose: Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson?
Sabates chooses Angel Cabrera.
As they walk from No. 6 to No. 7 at Quail Hollow Club on Wednesday, Sabates introduces me to the golfer.
I tell Cabrera my favorite moment at the Masters is the thumbs-up he gave Adam Scott during their sudden-death playoff.
Cabrera, who grew up and lives in Argentina, responds in Spanish. Oh, yeah. During interviews Cabrera uses an interpreter. This could indicate he does not speak English.
The Pro-Am is designed to allow people to make their mistakes before the tournament begins.
Sabates grew up in Cuba, and he and Cabrera walk side by side down the fairway, every fairway, talking in Spanish about life, politics, houses and the quality of the Quail Hollow Clubs greens. Sabates says Cabrera doesnt complain about them.
Its like race car drivers, says Sabates. When they get together they talk about everything but racing.
After every hole, Sabates signs autographs for everybody who asks. So does Cabrera, whose signature is more coveted.
He has signed more autographs the last six holes than Jimmie Johnson signed the last year, Sabates says as they approach No. 7.
We all know that Johnson is a nice and courteous driver who regularly signs autographs.
Cabrera, however, signs as if he is Richard Petty. He signs programs, balls and caps. He talks to little kids in Spanish. Based on the look on their faces, the kids have no idea what Cabrera is saying. So he pulls a golf ball from his pocket and flips it to them.
This they understand. Free stuff is the universal language.
And Cabrera doesnt have to worry about slowing down the group behind him because he plays behind Ben Crane. Five p.m. traffic on I-485 moves faster than Crane.
Fans greet Cabrera, 43, warmly. He and Adam Scott saved the 2013 Masters. Before the final round, the Masters had been known more for penalties assessed than shots made. Most of that round, players did not break away from the field. They came back to it.
Then Cabrera and eventual winner Scott took turns exchanging fearless shots, superb shots and gracious sportsmanship.
If you need another reason to like Cabrera, here it is: Cabrera doesnt hover above a shot and contemplate world peace as he waggles and breathes and deigns to address the ball. He just steps up and whacks the thing.
And then he stops and signs and signs and signs and flips more balls to more kids, who suddenly understand him beautifully.
Sabates has played in 75 Pro-Ams, in Charlotte and other cities. He says Cabrera is the best playing partner he has ever had.
Camillo Villegas, says Sabates.
Where is he from? I ask. Chile?
Colombia, Cabrera says.
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