Cabrera teeing-up in far off Morocco as he edges closer to a return to US soil

Bernie McGuire

Angel Cabrera (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Double Major winning Angel Cabrera has travelled all the way to Morocco as he continues to retain hopes that the Argentinean will soon be back competing on US soil.

Cabrera, 54, has entered this week’s Champions Tour Trophee Hassan II event being held at the ultra-private Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in the capital of Rabat.

It will be Cabrera’s first PGA Tour sanctioned event since his release last August after serving a 30-month prison sentence in both Brazil and Argentina for gender dispute and ‘other’ charges.

Despite opposition to Cabrera’s release, he’s served his time behind bars and like others who’ve been in his situation, he’s free to resume his life.

Additionally, there’s those within the golf industry, including this journalist, who got on really well with Cabrera, finding him always approachable, friendly and engaging. That’s not to say I forgive him, but then akin to Tiger Woods when he fell foul to misadventure, I’m prepared to move on and besides, I’m looking forward to seeing how Angel tackles the next few months inside the ropes.

The PGA Tour gave Cabrera the green light late in December by announcing he was eligible to return to competition by immediately lifting all bans while Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley indicated he’s free to tee-up in any future Masters.

Cabrera’s return to the Masters and to most PGA and Champions Tour events, however, will hinge on obtaining a visa to enter the US.

“It is my dream to return to that prestigious place,” Cabrera said of Augusta National in an interview with Golf Digest.

“I played at Augusta for almost 20 years in a row. It is like a second home to me. It would be a great privilege to return and attend the champions dinner with so many of the world’s greatest players.”

Despite his time served behind bars, Cabrera’s already shown he’s competitive on the golf course securing a T10th place finish in December’s Coast Open, PGA Latin American Development Series event in his native Argentina.

Then in mid-January, he finished third in the South Open, another Argentinean Development Series tournament.

Confirming Cabrera’s approval to compete this week in Morocco was PGA Tour Champions President Miller Brady.

“He’s been gone for three years and served time in jail and had time for personal reflection,” said Brady in a report by GolfWeek.

“It’s a bit like Jim Thorpe, who spent time in jail for tax evasion) and was welcomed back. It’s a little different. I don’t know if he can travel in the United States because he needs a visa. I think guys forgive. I’m not sure if spouses will forgive, that’s the bigger question. But he has the right to play.”

Once he’s competed in Morocco, Cabrera is expected to tee-up in the Visa Argentina Open in Buenos Aires at Olivos Golf Club, which is being conducted for the first time as a tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Additionally, and in a huge sign of support for Cabrera, he has received an exemption to play in the Insperity Invitational in Houston in early May however, as mentioned above, it will all depend if US authorities grant him an entry visa.

Cabrera’s manager Manuel Tagle confirmed that Cabrera, who also won the U.S. Open in 2007, is seeking to regain a visa to travel to the U.S. and elsewhere.

“While competing in the Masters again is a dream, securing a visa is Angel’s priority at the moment so he can resume his professional career,” Tagle wrote in an email to Golfweek.

“We are working on getting an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Argentina. Probably early March as his visa has expired January 2024.”

In the meantime, this week in the Moroccan capital will be like old times for Cabrera, as he will tee-up a field boasting many of his former playing colleagues including the likes of John Daly, Chris Di Marco, countryman Ricardo Gonzalez, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Colin Montgomerie and fellow Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal.

This year’s Moroccan event, boasting a prize purse of $2 million – will be the third staging on the PGA Tour Champions following Brett Quigley’s win in 2020 and Stephen Ames’ victory in 2023.

And defending champion Ames will tee-up looking to make it back-to-back wins after capturing last week’s reduced Chubb Classic.

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