Sport Golf

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Kim Bielenberg: Portly Cabrera and his gym-free lifestyle are an inspiration to many

Published 15/04/2013 | 14:53

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Angel Cabrera of Argentina flips his putter after missing a birdie putt on the second playoff hole

He may have been the narrow loser in the Masters play-off, but we should all raise a glass to Angel Cabrera.

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In an era when svelte sports competitors are over-trained and counselled to within an inch of their lives, the devil-may-care Argentinian with the generous middle-aged spread is an inspiration.

The 43-year-old’s most famous remark will go down in sporting history: “There are some players who have psychologists and sportologists – I smoke.”

That is a mantra that is unlikely to be followed by prodigious 14-year-old Chinese player Tianlang Guan, who won the Masters amateur trophy, and other young Tigers out on the course.

Competitors now travel with retinues of trainers, mind coaches, nutritionists and sports scientists.

Even schoolboy rugby players in South Dublin seem to have dieticians these days.

Perfectly-tone muscular modern sporting folk spend their lives running on treadmills, jumping into bins of ice and engaging in all sorts of horrendous physical jerks.

Padraig Harrington was recently spotted during one tournament with a cap attached to electrodes that measured his brainwaves.

These were transmitted to an iPad held by a technician nearby.

Cabrera, by contrast, relies on no such technical mumbo-jumbo and does not travel with a retinue of flunkeys. 

He may have given up smoking, but he does not seem to engage in physical training of any description.

Once asked if he had ever gone to a gym, he insisted proudly: “Not once in my life”.

According to one legend, he celebrated his victory in the Masters in 2009 by scoffing nine cheeseburgers, washed down with red wine.

Cabrera’s style is simple but effective. Unlike the other players, when he is preparing for a shot he does not consult reams of notes showing pin positions and prevailing wind direction.

Looking no more fit than the average portly middle-aged gent hacking their way in the mud around a suburban par 3 course, he simply walks up to the ball and gives it a good whack.

He only missed out on a win in the Masters by an inch.

There is no practice swing, just pure instinct. 

In an age where there is so much over-elaboration and impenetrable psychobabble attached to sport, Cabrera offers hope to us all.

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