Cabrera keeps Masters defense alive with last-gasp birdie

By Steve Keating

The burly Argentine had looked poised to join a parade of major winners at the Magnolia Lane exit until he sank a curling 15-footer to avoid becoming the first defending champion since Canada's Mike Weir in 2004 to fail to make the weekend.

"I wasn't really happy about my round but I am happy I made the cut," said Cabrera, who sits 11 strokes behind British co-leaders Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. "I thought if I made that putt I was going to be out.

"I'm very far off the lead but I'm just going to try to make the most of this and try to make a good tournament during the weekend."

After laboring to rounds of 74 and 75, the Irishman missed the cut by two strokes and was joined by twice Masters winner Bernhard Langer of Germany, who failed to reach the weekend for the fifth straight year.

American British Open champion Stewart Cink never found his form at Augusta, carding back-to-back 76s to miss the cut for the second consecutive year after finishing third in 2008.

Fiji's Vijay Singh, the 2000 champion, missed the cut for the third time and first since 1998, while British 1988 winner Sandy Lyle endured a second-round nightmare, a 14-over-par 86, to ensure an early exit.

Former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, British Open winners Justin Leonard (1997), David Duval (2001) and Todd Hamilton (2004) will all have the weekend off along with in-form Briton Paul Casey, the world number six who arrived at Augusta as one of the favourites.

New Zealand's Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open winner, and British 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam both failed to crack 80 to finish at the bottom of the leaderboard at 20-over.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)