The Duck escapes at Hazeltine

The Duck escapes at Hazeltine

CHASKA, MINN. — Masters champ Angel Cabrera glowered and smoldered while shooting 76 this afternoon, but he hit the coolest shot of the first round. Stuck in the rough and trees to the left of the fairway on the 405-yard sixth hole, the Duck manufactured a belt-high hook that boomeranged out of the shade and skipped along the edge of a guarding pond before running up the green and stopping a few paces short of a back-left pin. The crowd at the sixth green, which included patio and deck spectators from adjoining houses, gave Cabrera a well-deserved ovation as he walked onto the green.

Two-time PGA champ Vijay Singh submitted his own candidate for Shot of the Day. Singh’s approach shot on the lakeside 16th hole cleared a tree, landed behind the flagstick and then spun back five or six feet before settling on the edge of the hole. A few minutes later, tour veteran Bob Estes topped Singh by holing out from afar for an eagle 2 on the 6th hole (his 15th).

But Cabrera’s shot gets bonus points for degree of difficulty and disregard of consequences. The burly Argentine was in no mood for an English-language chat after his round, so we don’t know what club he used for his brilliant escape. But Singh, who vaulted into a tie for third at three under on the strength of his blow-in birdie, provided reporters the essential data: “Nine-iron.”

Actually, Singh was not as reticent as usual. “I hit a 5-wood off the tee,” he said, “and with the first cut I didn’t know if I was going to get a jumper or not. But it came out perfect. Told my caddie, ‘Wow, that’s good,’ and it landed absolutely perfect and the crowd just went crazy.”

Estes, the 1989 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and a three-time T-6 PGA Championship finisher in the ’90s, was still on the course when we shut down the Shot-of-the-Afternoon Interview Stage.