RYDER CUP STAR PASSES ON SKILLS TO UAE KIDS
In-form Spaniard out to top Race to Dubai
R afa Cabrera-Bello has mixed emotions when recalling his debut appearance at the Ryder Cup. There is the bitter disappointment that comes from losing out to Team USA, but there is also the delight of being part of the European team for the very first time.
It was a special week for the Spaniard who had always dreamed of emulating his heroes, the great Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.
So despite being on the wrong end of a 17-11 defeat at Hazeltine, Cabrera-Bello cannot hide his smile when discussing his time in Missouri.
“It was a great experience, probably the best golf week of my career,” Cabreba-Bello told 7DAYS.
“I really enjoyed being part of a team and something much greater than just an individual.
“Being one of the Spanish players to have been part of a Ryder Cup team was special and just getting to bond with all my other teammates was great.
“Obviously we wanted to win to retain the Cup but the Americans just played great this year and it was hard to beat them. But I know we will get them back in France.” REVENGE IN PARIS
That comment has been echoed by his European teammates in the weeks since the defeat. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but CabrebaBello – who was coaching children in Dubai yesterday – believes many of that 12 will be in Paris in two years’ time trying to regain the Ryder Cup.
“Afterwards we all looked at each other and we saw no reason why anyone of us wouldn’t make the team in two years,” he said.
“It will be hard for us to be the exact same 12 but even if it’s not I think there will be a good representation of this team in France.”
While some members of the Darren Clarke’s side struggled with the fiery American support and the pressure of winning away from home, Cabrera-Bello excelled under the tough examination of his game.
The 32-year-old played in three matches and earned two-and-a-half points. He formed a formidable partnership with good friend and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia and comfortably beat Jimmy Walker in the singles. “I admit I
wasn’t the most punished of the European players, some of the others had far worse comments,” said CabreraBello when reflecting on the sometimes outspoken American crowd. “But I managed to cope well and get my mind in a really good zone. I felt confident, trusted my abilities and I was happy with how I performed.” MR CONSISTENT
Cabrera-Bello certainly didn’t perform like a rookie, but that will have come as little surprise to those on the European Tour.
The Spaniard has been one of the most consistent players on the tour for the last 12 months. In fact he last missed a cut at the British Open in 2015, so more than a year ago.
Since then he has been in contention in almost every event he has entered. There have been two second-place finishes, a third at the World Match Play, fourth at the French Open and fifth at the Rio Olympics.
So what does he credit for this incredible run of form?
“It’s a combination of things,” explained Cabrera-Bello.
“I am more complete, stronger mentally and more prepared for everything golf can throw back at me. I don’t think about consequences. I focus more on the process so I don’t go into a week thinking about winning as much as a did before. Now I just try to play golf the best way I can. So I focus solely on one shot at a time and stay in the moment and give my 100 per cent on every shot. It seems to have been working pretty well.” RACE TO DUBAI’S FRIENDLY RIVALRY
So well in fact that Carbrera-Bello is fifth in the Race to Dubai standings.
That means a tournament in which he is normally relaxed - the DP World Tour Championship - will have some extra pressure as he could finish atop the rankings, which brings a bonus of $1.5 million.
His Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett are currently above him meaning there could be some interesting conversations around the Earth course next month.
“We were friends before the Ryder Cup and we are definitely better friends now after,” said CabreraBello before adding with a smile. “We all want to win and try out best but we won’t be yelling any naughty things to each other.”
“It was a great experience, the best golf week of my career. ” – RAFA CABRERA-BELLO