Ryder Cup regret and Hong Kong Open runner-ups washed away in Bali surf for ‘recharged’ Rafa Cabrera Bello
- The Spaniard says it would be an ‘honour to add my name to the trophy’ after two years as the bridesmaid
The 2018 season has not been the kindest to Rafa Cabrera Bello but a surfing holiday in Bali has ‘recharged’ the Spaniard as he looks to take care of unfinished business at the Honma Hong Kong Open.
His second consecutive runner-up finish in Hong Kong is the closest Cabrera Bello has been to a win this season and he missed selection for Europe’s Ryder Cup domination after playing in 2016.
But the much-loved Spaniard is not one for doom and gloom and he is looking forward to returning to the familiar surrounds of the Hong Kong Golf Club in two weeks.
“Surfing is one of my passions, it helps me to forget a little bit about golf,” he said. “I’ve recharged my batteries and I fancy my chances in Hong Kong.
“I feel strong. I’ve been very close the last couple of years and I will draw on those good results and good memories. Everyone knows that a runner-up finish, although tough at the time, is a very good result.”
After peaking at a world ranking of 16 last July on the back of his last tournament win – which came in the Scottish Open – Cabrera Bello’s form wavered and he slid to number 30 in the world in September.
But a third in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges on South Korea’s Jeju Island and 14th in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last month see him on the rise again.
“I feel my game is in good shape. I truly believe there are more Ryder Cups in my career, next time I will try to make the team on my own,” he said after relying on a captain’s pick which never came this year.
Cabrera Bello will play in the climax to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai – the DP World Tour Championship – in Dubai next week before turning his attention to the season-opener in Hong Kong.
And rather than being bitter about his two near misses, he is hungry to atone at a place that suits his game.
“I don’t feel like Hong Kong owes me anything,” he said. “Of course I want to win and it’s one of the reasons I go back, but I don’t feel I’m owed anything.
“My two runner-up finishes have left me very keen to get my name on the trophy and there are a lot of positives.
“Every time I tee up in Hong Kong I know that I have probably birdied that hole before and that will help me perform.
“I think it’s a course that really suits me. I am a more of a strategy player and I have played there many years. I am normally very accurate off the tee and I think that is crucial in Hong Kong.”
Cabrera Bello will have to outpoint star players Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and countryman Sergio Garcia and is eager to see the trophy back in Spanish hands.
“It’s a course that has been so special for Spanish golfers, especially [four-time winner] Miguel [Angel Jimenez] who has been so successful and [Jose Maria] Olazabal has won there,” he said. “It would be an honour to add my name to that trophy.”