Golfer Rafa Cabrera Bello will become the best ranked player to feature at Hero Indian Open as the World No. 25 Spaniard confirmed his participation in the prestigious tournament which will tee off at the DLF Golf & Country Club from March 9 to 12.
The 32-year-old ‘Rafa’, as he is popularly known in the golfing community, has in the past year established himself as one of the most consistent golfers on multiple Tours, including the European and PGA Tours. From World No. 114 in December 2015 he rose to No. 27 at the end of December 2016 and is now No. 25. Also in 2016, he had six Top-10 finishes, including three second places – in Qatar, Dubai and Hong Kong – and missed just one cut in 27 starts around the world.
The Spaniard also played at the Rio Olympic Games and finished fifth. At the Ryder Cup he scored 2.5 points from three matches, winning his fourball in the company of Sergio Garcia against JB Holmes and Ryan Moore. The Spaniards halved the point in foursomes against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, before Rafa beat Jimmy Walker in singles completing a great debut.
This year, Cabrera-Bello had a great start in the Middle East with three Top-20 finishes –- T-19 in Abu Dhabi, T-6 in Qatar and T-11 in Dubai. Cabrera Bello is the second highest world ranked Spaniard after Garcia, who is now in Top-10 of the world.
“The Hero Indian Open has been a last minute addition to my schedule. In fact I only confirmed for last week and I am looking forward to it. I have not put my mind to and have yet to study the course,” said Cabrera Bello, who also enjoys other outdoors sports like surfing and skiing.
As part of the golfing elite he will also be featuring in the World Golf Championships in Mexico, from where he will fly to India. He added, “It is going to be a long flight from Mexico to India, but I am looking forward to it.”
Talking about his decision to play in Asia, Cabrera Bello said, “Modestly I am going to say that I have good results all over world also. So why not in Asia. Sometimes I find it difficult to adapt to the greens. “I particularly like softer grass, but I also enjoy the challenge of playing on all surfaces, that makes you a better player and that is also one my goals.”
To a question on winning a tournament, Cabrera bello said, “I have to be patient. My game is good, and I could win any week, or I could even go longer without a win. I don’t want to stress about it, I just want to keep playing my golf, keep making cuts, putting myself in contention and just one day it will happen again. Maybe, in India!”
Cabrera Bello’s record at the WGC is very good, having finished in Top-20 in the three he played in 2016. He was third at WGC Dell Matchplay, where he lost in the semi-finals to Louis Oosthuizen, but beat Rory McIlroy in the fight for the third place. He was also 11th at WGC-Cadillac and T-19 at WGC-HSBC.
Talking about Spanish players coming to India, he said, “I know Miguel (Angel Jimenez) came there a couple of years ago. I have also played there some years ago. So I am looking forward and will enjoy it.”
As for the quality of Indian players, Cabrera Bello added, “I know there are very good players in India. I have played with guys like Jeev Milkha, SSP (Chawrasia), Shiv (Kapur) and Anirban (Lahiri). They are strong players, they play in a natural way and don’t have a mechanical swing, almost self-taught in way. Great to see them and others coming up.”