Rafa Cabrera Bello: ‘I’ve seen the golf revolution in China’

Kate Dobinson
Kate Dobinson

The Spanish golfer takes a break from the Shanghai 2016 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament to talk about building golf’s profile in China

This year has been you most successful yet – fifth in the Rio Olympics and 14th at the Masters – has there been a turning point for you?

It’s been a great year and I’ve achieved a lot of my goals. It’s hard to pick one particular turning point; I’ve just felt that the hard work is actually paying off. I did see a lot of improvement already halfway through last year, I was just struggling a bit to close out events in the proper way. This year I’ve been managing to do that a bit better, so that’s really been the difference.

Over the years you have been incredibly consistent in Dubai – never out of the top 60 on the Race to Dubai Tour – why is Dubai special to you?

I like Dubai, I’ve always felt very comfortable there. I’m originally from the Canary islands so just playing in sand, seeing the palm trees makes me feel very comfortable and reminds me of my hometown and of the good days when I was practicing as a little kid. I really love it over there and eventually it puts me in a good state of mind to perform well and it helps.

The golf scene in China is fledgling – how would you like to see the sport develop here and can anything be learned from Dubai?

The first time I came to China was in 2007, so I’ve been seeing a little bit of the golf revolution. The courses are getting better and better every time, and the local players are getting better very quickly. Even the crowd starts to be a bigger crowd and they start to understand a little more about golf that is very nice. I think they are moving in the right direction. With golf getting more and more popular, it is now an Olympic sport, that has a hug impact in China because of how much they value the Olympics, so I think that is really going to help.