Rafa Cabrera Bello opens up on fatherhood, his love of Dubai and his Olympic and Ryder Cup dreams in this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Becoming a father has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s been amazing to say the least. Although a lot of my routine hasn’t changed that much, your priorities and perspective changes a lot. Straight away, you feel more mature and you have a different view of everything. Golf is no longer your first thought – three-putts don’t feel quite so bad anymore! All you want is for your child to be healthy and happy and outside of that nothing else is as important.
Now I no longer want to win or play well for myself, I want to do it for my daughter, Alva, too. I want to be a good role model for her, and when she grows up, I want her to look back and be proud of me. Not just of what I have achieved, but the way I have done it and how I’ve behaved. Every time I play, I think as though she’s watching me, and having her there in my mind has definitely changed me for the better. She’s still only three months old so a lot of these changes are still very new, but I already know that she’s having a positive impact on me.
I want Alva to do whatever makes her happy when she grows up, but it would be a dream come true for me if she goes on to become a golfer! My number one priority is for her to do whatever makes her happy, I have to make that clear, but if she did grow up to like golf I would love to help her out with that. If she goes on to like another sport, or not like sport at all, that is also great with me too. I want her to be healthy and happy.
She’s only come to see me at one tournament this year, in Spain, and that gave me an extra motivation that week. I was just enjoying having her around and being there with her. Every time I finished playing, she was there with her mother waiting for me – that was very cool. I finished as a runner-up in Spain this year and it was such an amazing week. I can’t say that having her there was the sole reason I did so well, I had a lot of my family and friends there too, there were big crowds cheering me on and I was in great form, but having her there added to what was a really special week for me. She hasn’t been to see me at a tournament since, so hopefully she can be my lucky charm again in Dubai this week!
Dubai is where I live, and it is definitely my home. I have always liked playing in the Middle East, the conditions are very similar to where I grew up in the Canaries. It’s windy, sunny, with plenty of sand dunes, and you can play in short sleeves! I’ve been here for a while now, so it definitely feels like home to me. I always get excited about this week – you play all year to qualify for this event – and I’ve had some great rounds on the Earth Course so I know I can do well here. Knowing you’re so close to the finish line also helps push you too, even if you’re tired after a long season, and having so many of my friends and family out supporting me this week will definitely spur me on even more.
Looking ahead, next year is a big one for me, with the Olympics and The Ryder Cup coming up. Being at the Olympic Games in Rio was one of my career highlights, especially the Opening Ceremony, surrounded by the best athletes from your country, in the Maracanã Stadium in front of 100,000 people cheering. Having done it once it makes you even more motivated to qualify again as you know exactly what it is going to be like. It is going to be a spectacular Olympics in Tokyo and I really want to be a part of it. Plus, it would be very special to tell Alva when she grows up that I played in an Olympics Games and she was alive to see it.
I was very close to making the last Ryder Cup team, and it was disappointing not to make it. The picks are for the Captain and he can choose whoever he likes, it’s up to him. I felt that if I had been one of the picks no one would have argued with it, but that didn’t happen and there’s no way I can disagree with the Captain’s picks as they did so well in the end – no one would want to change the score at Le Golf National! To see Sergio become the leading points scorer was amazing and I couldn’t have dreamed for a better partner in 2016. We won that first match we played together and then managed to halve our next match after being four down with six holes to play, so it was just really cool to be able to play alongside him. I hope we can both make the team next year and create more memories. We had a good Ryder Cup together and we did the best we could for Europe. It was amazing to be a part of one Ryder Cup, and I hope my golf can take me to many more.
When I look back and evaluate where I am, I know I have a very fortunate life. We always want more, but I know I’m in a great place. I’ve just become a dad, I’m in high up in the World Rankings, I am playing well going into the last event of the season on the European Tour. The game is good, and I must be doing something right. Behind the scenes I’ll keep putting in the hard work so I can keep improving and play my best golf, as I think that’s still ahead of me. I want to do that for me, and for Alva.