Looking Back at a Magical Season

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 September 2009.

It's been five months, and I still have to pinch myself when I think about Angel Cabrera winning the Masters.

I can remember sitting with him at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. I said to him, "You know, if you're good enough to win a U.S. Open at Oakmont, then you're certainly good enough to win the Masters."

He looked at me and said, "So what do I have to do?"

I responded by saying, "Now that we know our goal, let's set up our practice schedule." We finished the 2008 season playing pretty good.

We worked hard at each tournament to improve his putting and practice routine. Although he didn't win a tournament last year, I could see his confidence returning.

Before the first tournament of the year, we met at the PING factory in Scottsdale, Ariz. We double-checked all his equipment and used the putting computers to show him how good his stroke really was.

So as he approached that putt on the 72nd hole to tie for the lead at Augusta National, there was never a doubt. It was automatic.

The rest, as they say, is history. It's amazing what 100 hours of putting practice will do.

As the 2009 PGA Tour season winds down, I look back at it with fond memories and even more commitment to learn how to better teach all of my students.

Being a part of Cabrera's Masters victory just reinforced my belief that the only way to get better at anything is to practice, practice, practice...and through education.

As we arrived at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York with great expectations, we kept our sights on hard work, staying realistic. As my good friend Jackie Burke says, "You don't find the trophies. The trophies find you."

As luck would have it that week in New York, I ran into my friend, new hero and captain of the victorious 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team, Paul Azinger. I congratulated him and told him how smart he made me look. In a 2008 Texas Links column, I predicted a U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup because of Azinger's tenacity and will to win. Anyone who can win with a grip like his has got to be good.

What a week in New York that turned out to be. It was so surreal that on the Monday playoff a student of my best friend was destined to win the U.S. Open championship. Lucas Glover made the late, great Dick Harmon and everyone else who knows him so proud.

Next, we left the States and headed to Scotland for the British Open at Turnberry, the site of my favorite shootout between my two favorite golfers—the 1977 Duel in the Sun between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. Like you, I watched a 59-year-old Watson come ever-so-close to winning his sixth Claret Jug.

Although he didn't win, the Harmon magic was kept alive by Butch Harmon's student, Stewart Cink, winning the Claret Jug.

As I sit and write this article, the 2009 PGA Championship is two weeks away. I wonder if another Harmon protégé will pick up the Wannamaker Trophy at Hazeltine. Will Bill Haas, Billy Harmon's student, step forward? Or will Phil Mickelson or another of Butch's entourage win the year's final major championship? Maybe it will be my little Angel who becomes the first Argentine to win two majors in the same year and creep ever closer to the career grand slam.

It won't be because of a lack of preparation.