The long-hitting veteran from Argentina reeled off four
successive birdies around the turn to end the day one stroke in
front of Americans Phil Mickelson and Martin Flores.
German Martin Kaymer, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Englishman
Justin Rose are among a group of nine players a further two shots
back on an impressive leaderboard.
Cabrera, 44, has made few headlines since losing a playoff to Adam
Scott at last year's Masters but he is still capable of matching it
with the game's best on any given day.
"I played very well on the greens and saved myself on the holes that
I didn't play so well," Cabrera, whose only two PGA Tour victories
came at the highest level with the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009
Masters, told reporters.
He had two birdies and one bogey in the first five holes at Quail
Hollow before kickstarting his move up the leaderboard with a
five-foot birdie putt at the par-five seventh.
Cabrera then recorded four consecutive birdies from the ninth, three
of them from close range, along with a monster 42-foot putt from the
fringe at the 11th.
Kaymer, who had consecutive eagles in his round, was unable to
remember even having previously notched the rare feat.
"I don't think I've ever done that before," said Kaymer, who sank a
15-footer at the seventh hole and then holed out from 65 yards from
the rough at the par-four eighth.
He considered his two eagles, which were bookended with bogeys, just
reward for an otherwise frustrating day on the greens.
"I missed a lot of short putts today," he said. "I stayed in the
tournament but overall it would have been nice to get a couple more
shots here and there."
Kaymer was ranked number one in the world barely three years ago,
but has since slipped to 63rd.
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He has not been playing badly, missing only two cuts worldwide since
this event last year, but has not often contended for victory.
McIlroy, returning after a two-week post-Masters break, looked sharp
apart from a couple of wayward drives.
"I gave myself chances for birdies and putted a little better than I
have in the last few weeks, so thatís a positive," said the 2010
champion, who birdied three of the four par-fives.
"I played the par fives well, which I wanted to do (because) at
Augusta I didn't."
This week's event has attracted a high-quality field, although not
quite as strong as it did in its first few years at Quail Hollow.
The course received rave reviews when the event was first held in
2003, but the greens were in poor condition last year which perhaps
scared off a few players from returning.
The greens were subsequently dug up and replanted and early reports
by the players suggest they are in better condition this year.
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes and Frank Pingue)
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