Alan Shipnuck's outstanding reporting of Angel Cabrera's heartburn-inducing post-Masters celebration prompted a reader to wonder if it was actually original reporting upon reading a column last week where the same anecdotal evidence was regurgitated nearly verbatim (without any mention or credit given to Shipnuck's SI story).
So I emailed Shipnuck to see if his piece was the original source. It turns out there's a great story behind the reporting process that speaks to the value of big-budget media operations:
When I went to Cordoba two years ago I was accompanied by SI writer-reporter Luis Fernando Llosa. Luis bonded with Cabrera-as much as anyone can with a prickly, standoffish character who has no use for the media--and he has maintained the relationship, doing a Q/A with Cabrera last year for Golf Magazine and hanging out with him a bit more while reporting a subsequent Andres Romero feature.
Following the third round of this year's Masters I had a strong feeling that Cabrera was going to win so I called Luis in New York to see if he would jet into Augusta to help me out. (Luis was let go by SI last year as part of the grim staff downsizing and has been freelancing ever since.) Luis eagerly agreed, catching a flight the next morning. He had never been to the Masters - he arrived around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, and I walked him through the post-round choreography should Cabrera win, showing Luis the back door to Butler Cabin, where the champion's dinner is held, etc.
Luis walked all 18 holes with Cabrera, hanging out with his Spanish-speaking entourage, many of whom we had met in Argentina. After Cabrera's victory Luis just floated along with Angel's crew, partying in the Butler Cabin after the jacket ceremonies, sitting at Cabrera's table for the champion's dinner with the Augusta National membership and then retiring to Angel's where he partied til 3 a.m.. (With Luis on the Cabrera beat I was freed up to trail Tiger and Phil and their people and then spend some time with K. Perry and his family after the crushing finale.) Throughout all of the post-round festivities Luis was texting me updates of what was happening, and I was responding with requests for specific details and offering potential questions for the champ. Without a doubt Luis was the only reporter in the Butler Cabin and at Angel's after-party. I am 99.8% sure no other scribe managed to crash the champion's dinner. As a rule, reporters are not allowed in there - two years ago I walked in with Zach Johnson and lasted through the toast until I was recognized by a Masters official and tossed out. Because Luis was unknown to the green jackets and mostly speaking Spanish he was able to blend in.