Back in August 2014, bunkered interviewed current world No.105 Rafa Cabrera-Bello on why he loves being a professional golfer.
The two-time European Tour winner spoke about the aims he has in his career, meeting Seve Ballesteros and how his sister Emma is also a professional golfer.
I have the best job in the world. I get to play golf in great weather, in short sleeves, on the best courses with the best players. That’s why I’m always smiling.
Out of ten, I’d probably give myself a seven or an eight for my career up to now. I’m happy with what I’ve achieved so far. I’ve improved little by little, year on year. It has been a steady climb and that’s what I’ve been attempting to accomplish.
My most immediate goal is to get back into the top 50 of the world rankings. I think that I belong there and my game is good enough to be there. I’ve been there once before but, last year, I dropped down a little so I want to get back in there so I can get back to competing with the world’s greatest players in the greatest tournaments.
Playing in the Ryder Cup and winning majors are two big dreams of mine but, for the moment, I feel like I need to keep putting myself in contention to win other tournaments. If I do that, then hopefully one day I’ll be in contention at a major again.
The pressure of trying to win a major compared with a regular tour event, it’s not the same. Yes, the process is the same and the thrill of being in contention is always great but, because the rewards are so much greater, you do definitely feel a different kind of pressure. It’s hard not to.
My two big heroes growing up were Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. I used to watch Seve’s videos all the time and, of course, I remember watching Olazabal’s two Masters victories very vividly. They were the reasons why I dreamed of one day becoming a professional golfer when I was a little kid.
I met Seve a couple of times and had the great honour of playing in a pro-am with him when the Spanish Open came to Gran Canaria, where I’m from, in 2002. It was an amazing experience. I remember him telling me to never give up, work hard, be patient and, above all, always believe in myself. He was a truly great man.
My sister, Emma, is also a professional golfer and plays on the Ladies European Tour, and my brother also turned professional last Decemeber. We were competitive with each other growing up but always in a healthy way. My dad would give out strokes to make sure that we won as often as each other to avoid any arguments!
Away from the golf course, my big hobbies are surfing and skiing. I live in Switzerland, so there are plenty of opportunities to ski there during the winter, whilst growing up in the Canary Islands, I always enjoyed surfing. When the European Tour goes to Asia, I like to take a week off and go to Bali - which is one of my favourite spots in the world - and get out in the surf.
How did a guy from the Canary Islands end up living in Switzerland? It’s a great country, first and foremost, and is very safe but it’s also good for travelling purposes, too. I can fly home on Sunday night, sleep in my own bed and then fly straight out of there again the next morning. When you play four or five weeks in a row, having even just that one night at home can make a huge difference.
I’m very happy playing on the European Tour just now but, obviously, I would love to play in America at some stage in my career, too. It would be great to have the chance to play both.
I wouldn’t say I was a particularly massive football fan but I support Real Madrid and also the Canary Islands’ team.
The best thing about being a professional golfer is the competition. I love to compete. Golf tournament are long and tough and, sometimes, you’ll get a cruel break or two. But when it pays out, it really pays out.
The worst thing is the travelling. I love to travel but I hate the actual travelling and all the time you have to spend in airports and on flights and so on.
I reckon I’m a pretty normal guy. I don’t really go out and spend loads of money on big things. I prefer to just hang out with my friends and do the kind of thing that every normal guy does.
I’m really close with all the Spanish guys on the tour but I’d say that my best friend out there is probably Alvaro Quiros. He’s a great guy and very funny.
One of the big things you learn to do as a golfer is be patient, so there aren’t many things that annoy me. Like I say, I have the best job in the world.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello in bunkered
This interview with Rafa Cabrera-Bello first appeared in issue 134 of bunkered (published: August 2014).