Rafa Cabrera Bello knows a thing or two about match play.
The Spaniard, a Challenge Tour graduate in 2006 and 2008, finished third in last year’s WGC-Dell Match Play, beating some of the world’s top players including Hideki Matsuyama and Rory McIlroy, before making his debut appearance in The Ryder Cup.
While Europe were ultimately beaten at Hazeltine National, Cabrera Bello impressed, winning two and a half points from his three matches and memorably pairing up with compatriot Sergio Garcia to great effect.
The news that the Challenge Tour has a match play tournament on its schedule, the Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9, caught the 32 year old’s eye, especially as it is taking place at La Cala Golf Hotel & Spa in Mijas in his homeland.
“Match play golf tests a different part of your game,” he said. “It’s fun to have your own personal battle, and not something we get to experience very often, so it’s great that the Challenge Tour have added this kind of tournament to their schedule.
“It has now been a few years but I really enjoyed playing on the Challenge Tour and it helped to develop my game and take me to the European Tour – and now, of course, The Ryder Cup.
Match play golf tests a different part of your game - it should be a lot of fun and remember never to give up!
“For this new match play tournament to be happening in Spain makes it even more special and I am sure the players will enjoy a great week in Andalucía – I will be keeping an eye on what happens, it should be a lot of fun and remember never to give up!”
The Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 is a full field event where 156 players will compete in 36 holes of stroke play for the first two days before the top 32 progress to the weekend match play knock-out over nine holes.
It will be the first match play tournament on the Challenge Tour schedule since 1999 when the Öhrlings Swedish Matchplay was won by Kalle Brinks on the first extra hole against future Challenge Tour Rankings winner and 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson.
The Asia Course at La Cala Golf Hotel & Spa will host the tournament, a picturesque classic golf course which will primarily test the players’ strategy and course management – perfect for the challenge of match play golf.
It is surrounded by the stunning Andalusian mountains and, with €200,000 on offer as the tournament purse, a visit to Mijas is sure to be a highlight of the 2017 Road to Oman.