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Golf Tidbits: Will Cabrera make the Hall of Fame?

<p>The World Golf Hall of Fame updated their qualification criteria earlier this year, and one player caught in the crosshairs of those changes is Angel Cabrera.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The World Golf Hall of Fame updated their qualification criteria earlier this year, and one player caught in the crosshairs of those changes is Angel Cabrera.

On one side, it is hard to argue that he is a Hall of Fame player because he has just three PGA Tour victories and five European Tour wins. Take out his two majors and those totals dip to one and three because the majors count toward both tours.

But it is those two majors, the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters, that push him significantly closer to Hall of Fame-worthy.

Outside of his PGA Tour wins, he has just one runner-up finish (a playoff loss at the 2013 Masters) and one third-place finish (2010 Quail Hollow Championship) in his career. As for the European Tour, he's run up 11 second- place, six third-place and 42 top-10 finishes, most of which came between 1997 and 2006.

Cabrera's main tour from 2002-14 has been the PGA Tour, where he has averaged 14 events per year. Three of his five top-3 finishes in that span are in majors, but in those 13 years he has tallied only 25 top-10 finishes.

Ten of those 25 are in majors, which again helps his cause, but a steady player like Matt Kuchar has one more top-10 finish in just the last three seasons alone.

Cabrera could argue that his main tour for many years was the Argentine Tour, where from 1991-2007 he racked up 28 of his 52 worldwide wins.

The issue at hand is that the Argentine Tour is not one of the "approved tours" according to the World Golf Hall of Fame. A player needs 15 victories on one of the approved tours -- which include the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia -- and two major championships as well.

On those tours, he has nine combined career wins.

The easy answer with those facts tell you that Cabrera is not a Hall of Fame golfer.

But what the numbers don't show you is how important Cabrera has been in growing golf in his native Argentina. In fact, he and countryman Roberto De Vicenzo have been the driving forces in growing the game in South America.

De Vicenzo won eight times on the PGA Tour, nine times on the European Tour and a staggering 131 times on the Argentine Tour. Those numbers helped him earn a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, but that was under the old criteria.

For De Vicenzo, it was hard to overlook the fact that he had over 200 worldwide titles to his name, tour be damned.

Cabrera has the requisite wins on what is considered his home tour and a pair of major championship titles, but will that be enough?

His most likely path to the Hall would have been through the Veterans Committee, but that is more for players whose careers ended before 1975.

If Cabrera were to go on and light up the Champions Tour, like Hale Irwin did, maybe that would change his resume in some people's eyes.

The vote at this point on Cabrera is no for the Hall of Fame. There is time to change that, but he'd need at least 12 more PGA Tour wins for him to turn from a question mark into a guaranteed Hall of Famer.

MCNEILL PLAYS THROUGH PAIN

There is a golf adage about "being aware of the sick or injured golfer." George McNeill was neither last weekend, but was playing with the pain of knowing his older sister was very ill.

What McNeill didn't learn until well after his final round was that his sister passed away about 10 minutes before he started his round at The Greenbrier Classic on Sunday.

After firing a 9-under 61, McNeill made his rounds with the media. He finished as the final group was making the turn to the back nine, so he had time to waste.

"You go out and, you know, golf doesn't really mean a whole lot. So it's hard. I played good today. And got finished, and you know, it was a nice middle part of the round. And so like I said, golf doesn't mean a whole lot sometimes," McNeill said in an interview after his round and before he found out his sister had passed away.

McNeill went out and birdied four holes in a row on the front nine Sunday. His run of birdies was stopped by a hole-in-one. So he was 6-under par in a five- hole span, and was suddenly in contention to win the tournament.

He collected only three more birdies on the back nine and lost by two, but his round of 61 was thoroughly unexpected, especially under the circumstances.

"Just to put things in perspective, I was just trying to play golf and get through a round, and I know I have about a four-and-a-half-hour flight home from here," McNeill said. "I got a long day ahead of me still, but it's just a matter of just getting out there and playing golf and getting through it. Then when I started playing and, you know, making birdies and hole-in-ones and everything else, I said, 'Wow, OK, I'm going to try and take advantage of what I can right now.'"

Take advantage he did.

Now comes the hard part of saying goodbye to his older sister.

MINI-TIDBITS

- U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson continues to be a marvel on the golf course. At the Greenbrier, he fired three straight rounds in the 60s and finished tied for 35th. He beat several of the players hoping to make his team later this year. Not bad for a 64-year-old.

- The WGC-Match Play Championship heads to Harding Park next year with a next format. Each player is guaranteed three matches, which makes it immediately better. Too often the top players were losing early, which rendered the final few rounds unwatchable for the casual golf fan. Those fans will get more chances to see their favorite golfers now.

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