Cabrera Bello among many looking forward to return of Spanish Open

April 11, 2018

Rafa Cabrera Bello may have been competing in the Masters Tournament last week but there will be no let-up in intensity when he tees it up at the Open de España - an event he regards as a "fifth Major".

"It's obviously a dream to win the Spanish Open. It's the biggest thing that you dream of when you're a kid and you're a Spaniard.

Cabrera Bello among many looking forward to return of Spanish Open, © Getty Images

One of the European Tour's most prestigious events returns this week to the home of Spanish golf at Centro Nacional de Golf and the World Number 24, who will be joined in the field by fellow Spaniard and two-time European Tour winner Jon Rahm, admits it would be a dream come true to add his name to the trophy.

"It's one of the oldest events in European Tour history and we're very proud that it is the Spanish Open. It has great winners - a lot of them Spaniards as well, who are my idols - and it is definitely one trophy that I would like to add to my CV.

"I'm sure that we're going to have really big crowds and I'm sure there will be a really big support by Spanish golfers. I'm very excited. For all Spaniards, it's our fifth Major!

"We missed out on it last year and it's been hard for the Spanish Federation to keep the event going. I know they've put a huge amount of work, together with the European Tour and the Madrid Golf Federation, for the event to be held this year.

"I know it came out a little late and we had to find a gap in the schedule to sneak it in but I'm very happy it is back."

The tournament has an illustrious list of winners, with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Bernhard Langer and Sir Nick Faldo sitting alongside Spanish greats such as Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

Matt Wallace is looking to make it successive European Tour wins this week after he secured his second European Tour title at the Hero Indian Open in his last start. Victory for the Englishman at Centro Nacional de Golf would make him the first back-to-back winner since countryman Justin Rose at the end of 2017 and is now starting to feel truly at home on the European Tour.

"It's changed my life again after being on the European Tour last year and getting the opportunity first year.

"It's been my first full year and getting the win in India has made the first win feel like it wasn't a fluke or luck. I've worked really hard towards getting this second win and to do it in that style and fashion was really nice.

"I've done some really good work this last week and had some time off so I'm refreshed and I'm ready to go. Hopefully I'll use the confidence from India to put in a good performance this week."

Wallace is not the only Englishman arriving in Madrid in good form, with defending champion Andrew Johnston also sure to be feeling confident after going close in New Delhi but losing out in a play-off to the 27 year old.

England’s Eddie Pepperell is also yet to play since claiming a maiden victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February and is looking forward to the return of the Open de España to the European Tour’s International Schedule.

“It feels like such a long time ago that I played golf, so I don’t really know what I’m feeling. I’m just looking forward to getting out there. I’ve been working with a new coach. I’ve had a bit of opportunity and some time to spend to work on some things with him.

“I’m excited to see go out and compete and play with a couple of really similar swing thoughts to what I had in Qatar. Just hope they’re going to be a little more ingrained, but I’m just excited to compete.”

“Historically this is a huge event on the European Tour. It was a shame obviously to see it go, but now it’s back and hopefully it can be here for the future. It’s great for us guys in Europe and yeah it just important really for golf really on the continent and in Spain.

Another player looking forward to the Open is Grégory Bourdy. The Frenchman had a top ten the last time it was held here in 2007 is delighted to be in the Spanish capital.

"It's always nice to play in Spain. It's a nice country and a nice time of year - they normally have some sun but we're still waiting for it! They have some great golfers here.

"I've played here and I have some good memories on this course. I played here about ten years ago and I have some good memories. I haven't played here this week yet but apparently the fairways and greens are in good shape.

"You need to be in good shape here. I think it's a tight course and you need to hit some good tee-shots, that's the most important thing. From what I remember, they have some short holes and some long holes so it's a great course to play. It's really enjoyable and I'm expecting to play well this week.

"I'm playing well after five weeks off. I feel good, confident and I always said I would like to play in Spain, so I hope it's going to be a good week for me."