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Angel Cabrera fought his way from the barrio to the U.S. Open

Angel Cabrera
Michael Crouser/SI
Cabrera visited a classroom in Mendiolaza, where he attended school before dropping out after sixth grade.

Cabrera showed enough promise that he was staked financially by a handful of club members, allowing him to travel to tournaments at which he quickly distinguished himself. The notion of becoming a professional golfer became increasingly attractive because Cabrera had a family to support. At 16 he had left his grandmother's house to move in a block away with his girlfriend, Silvia, who was a decade his senior. When Cabrera was 20 she gave him a son, Federico. Cabrera turned pro the next year. He allowed himself a year to make it as a touring pro or else he would find a real job. In 1995 he won the Paraguay Open and the Colombia Open, and in '96 he took the Volvo Masters of Latin America. By then he had another son, Angel.

Cabrera is a loving father unafraid to show affection — "like a big teddy bear with his boys," says his friend and swing coach, Mariano Bartolome. Cabrera is also a man of extreme dichotomies, so it is no surprise that the family life of this doting dad is also defined by bitter estrangement.

After leaving the young Angel in the care of Pura Concepcion, Miguel remarried and had four more children. Today he lives in Villa Allende, and in such a small town it is inevitable that he and his son occasionally cross paths. Not long ago Angel had bellied up to a bar when his father strolled in. Angel did not acknowledge his presence, telling a friend sitting with him, "I don't want to have anything to do with that guy." He has similarly cut out of his life his mother and the two siblings she took with her after the separation from Miguel.

It is harder to deny the existence of other blood relatives. Cabrera is now a dues-paying member at Cordoba Country Club, where Miguel's other two sons — Angel's half- brothers — work as caddies. During the recent Monday four-balls they were two of the best players on the course, which was a monochrome khaki as the bermuda grass has gone dormant in the Southern Hemisphere winter. Patricio, a slender 27-year-old, had nothing to say about his celebrated brother. Guillermo, 24, is a junior version of Angel: thick in the shoulders and a bomber off the tee. He allowed only that "we don't have any connection with him. He's hard-headed, tough, but he did grow up all alone."

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