Angel's triple target

By Brian Keogh

US Open champion Angel Cabrera has set his sights on landing the second leg of a triple whammy at The K Club.

The Argentinian with the brickhouse build has no worries about the torrential Irish rain or even how he is going to keep his cigarettes dry.

Back in action for the first time since he lifted the US Open at Oakmont, Cabrera wants to lift the European Open trophy and then grab the Claret Jug at Carnoustie.

And for a man nicknamed El Pato - the Duck - suggestions by Padraig Harrington that players from warm climates have no chance of contending this week simply rolled off his broad back.

With one major in his back pocket, the man from Cordoba firmly believes he has every chance of pulling off a US Open - European Open - British Open triple.

He said: "Of course it is possible to win all three. This is a great course for me. It's a fantastic course and I love it a lot.

"Let's hope that the weather gives us a bit of a break. I think the course suits my game and I have a good record in the European Open.

"I also see myself with a lot of chances at Carnoustie. I like playing in Europe very much on links type of courses and I've played on this course very often.

"After winning a major I am also going to go to the British Open with one less burden and it is going to make it easier for me."

Cabrera has played 11 European Opens and finished in the top-ten in six of them.

He was eighth on the Smurfit Course two years ago and while his profile is certainly higher this week after his Major win, he has avoided the temptation to stay at the 5 Star K Club Hotel and booked into his usual haunt, the three-Star Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth where he can have a good time with his Argentinian pals.

Since he arrived home to a ticker tape parade in soccer-mad Argentina, Cabrera has since handed the headlines over to the national soccer team and its efforts to win the Copa America in Venezuela.

Golf is still a minority sport in the South American republic and Cabrera is still the modest, former caddie with a booming long game and deft touch around the greens.

And he insists that the US Open is part of history now and the time has come to get back to normal though without carrying the burden of winning a major hanging on his shoulders.

Reflecting on the celebrations at home, where he drank "everything", fun-loving Cabrera said: "The attention was on golf for a short time but now everything is back to normal. Everybody cares about football only.

"I enjoyed celebrating my victory with my family and friends. It's been a very nice time there. But the US Open is over now and this is a very good week. I am looking forward to his next tournament.

"My life has not changed much sports-wise. The good thing about winning a major is I now know that I am capable of winning one and maybe some others will come.

"The good thing is that I don't feel obliged to win a major or anything like that. So far as responsibility is concerned, I feel like I have one burden lifted. So I will probably keep doing the same thing and playing the same way."

While Cabrera insists that he was always going to fulfil his promise to play in the European Open for the 12th year in a row, he admits that his game is rusty after a two-week break at home with his family.

He hasn't yet seen the video of his triumph at Oakmont and did not pick up a club until he arrived at The K Club on Tuesday afternoon.

Asked how he hit the ball, Cabrera grinned and said: "Badly."

That might be music to Harrington's ears, but Cabrera has no fears about the conditions and having played most of his golf in Europe he shot down the Dubliner's suggestion that the southern hemisphere players are already out of the reckoning.

He said: "I have already been on the European Tour for 11 years so I don't think it is going to be a complication for me.

"Ireland has a special climate and it is often rainy and cold and windy, but it is the same for everyone. We just have to get on with it."

Named yesterday as the European Tour's Golfer of the Month for June, Cabrera feels at home on the European Tour.

But he has also made himself at home in Ireland, checking into his usual hotel in Maynooth where he can eat and drink with the Argentine caddies and professionals.

Explaining his decision not to stay at The K Club, he said: "I am going to stay where I feel comfortable. Where I am staying there are a lot of Argentine players and I am not going to change that."

He also feels at home on the practice ground and Swede Niclas Fasth, one of his biggest rivals this week, was amongst the first to congratulate him on his Oakmont win with an emotional embrace.

Cabrera said: "Most of the players here have said congratulations to me. In fact, everyone who saw me was kind enough to come and say well done."