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Ángel Cabrera plays in the AmFam Championship after his prison sentence

MADISON – There was little excitement Friday afternoon as Ángel Cabrera finished his first round at the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, shooting a 1-over 73 in his first professional round in the United States since September 2020.

Fewer than a hundred fans clapped politely as Cabrera finished his round with a birdie, but the day itself was important for the 54-year-old as it marked another step toward resuming his golf career after serving a prison sentence for gender-based violence.

“Yes, yes, it's a new beginning,” Cabrera said through interpreter and caddy Ruben Yorio. “There's a great future ahead of us.”

Cabrera was released on August 4, 2023, but did not receive a visa to play in the United States until late May. Due to his status as a major champion, he participated in the AmFam Championship and the Dick's Open on June 21-23, but this only earned him a place on the reserve list.

His place was guaranteed because the tournament offered him a sponsorship exemption.

“I'm very grateful to American Family for inviting me,” Cabrera said of Yorio. “I played in the pro-am with one of the (staff) on Thursday. I'm very grateful to all the people. Good course, good tournament. I couldn't be more grateful to everyone.”

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Cabrera, playing alongside Scott McCarron and Scott Dunlap, began the day on the back nine and came around the turn at 2-over par, balancing two birdies against two bogeys, a double bogey – and nerves. After a bogey on hole 3 – his 12thth hole – he coped and finished his last seven holes at 2 under par.

“I feel good,” Cabrera said of Yorio. “I enjoy playing golf. I hit some really good shots, missed a few easy shots, but overall I feel pretty good on the course and with the people I've been playing with.”

Cabrera's official return to the United States on Friday ended a nearly four-year absence from professional golf that began with his arrest in Brazil in January 2021 after leaving Argentina without authorization while under investigation for domestic violence.

A trip to the United States in 2020 – when he last played on the PGA Tour Champions – was also unauthorized, leading to an Interpol arrest warrant being filed against him.

Cabrera was sentenced to six months in prison in Brazil and extradited to Argentina. He was accused of assault, theft and intimidation of his former partner Cecilia Torres Mana. He was convicted not only of these charges, but also of another assault charge in 2022 against his former partner Micaela Escudero.

In the December 2023 / January 2024 issue of Golf Digest, Cabrera said: “I refused to listen to anyone and did what I wanted, how I wanted and when I wanted. That was wrong. I ask Micaela for forgiveness. I ask Celia for forgiveness. You had the misfortune of being with me when I was at my worst. I was not the devil, but I did bad things.”

“I am deeply ashamed of having let down the people closest to me – and everyone who loves me through golf,” he said. “Golf has given me everything and I know I will never be able to repay the debt I owe to the sport.”

Inmates with good behavior were allowed to visit their partners, and Cabrera and Yamila Alvarez had a child while he was incarcerated. The couple married in October 2023, and the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions lifted his suspension from tour events in December 2023.

Cabrera attempted to return to the United States on a temporary visa in time to compete in the Masters in April, but the 2009 champion was denied entry into the country.

Prior to this week's competition in Madison, Cabrera competed in the PGA Tour Champions Trophy Hassan II in Morocco, Spain, the Korn Ferry Tour's Argentine Open and the Barbados Legends Championship.

Cabrera won the 2007 US Open and the 2009 Masters tournament.

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