Cabrera Bello joins field for Irish Open
Rafa Cabrera Bello will be hoping to emulate his Spanish compatriot Jon Rahm by claiming the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation title this July.
His 2016 Ryder Cup team-mates — English trio Matthew Fitzpatrick, Chris Wood and Danny Willett — have also confirmed their participation in the prestigious Rolex Series event.
World No.25 Cabrera Bello already has one Rolex Series title to his name, having won last year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, and the 33-year old has a strong record on Irish soil having come close to victory in 2012 when he claimed a share of second place at Royal Portrush.
The Canary Islands native, who also has two other top fives and an additional top 10 to his name in the event, will be looking to make it two Spanish victories in successive years, when fellow countryman and World No.4 Rahm defends the prestigious title at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal, from July 5-8.
As one of the European Tour’s eight Rolex Series events, the Irish Open will carry extra Ryder Cup points for those players hoping to earn a place in Thomas Bjorn’s team for Le Golf National in France in September.
Following his impressive debut performance at Hazeltine National in 2016, Cabrera Bello will be hoping for a big summer if he is to have a chance of playing in Paris in four months’ time.
“I am really looking forward to returning to the Irish Open and playing in front of the Irish crowds again,” said Cabrera Bello.
“It is a tournament which has been very good to me through the years and I love links golf.
“I have never played Ballyliffin but it looks like we are in for a treat in Donegal.
“I have had some good results on the European Tour this season so far, but I know I can play well and win on links courses so I’m confident of making that count and hopefully contending for the title in Ireland.”
Fitzpatrick, who has one Irish Open top 10 to his name, said: “I love playing in Ireland and I’m a huge fan of links golf so I’m looking forward to returning.
“The fans are always extremely knowledgeable and supportive and that’s one of the main reasons why I love playing that event every year.”
Three-time European Tour winner Wood said: “I’ve got a pretty good record at the Irish Open so I’m looking forward to returning this year.
“Unfortunately I missed the event last year, but the links golf combined with the big Irish crowds always makes it a special event on the calendar and it should be a great week at Ballyliffin.”
Willett, the 2016 Masters Champion, said: “I’m really looking forward to playing at Ballyliffin this year. I’ve managed to play pretty well at the Irish Open, although I was forced to retire last year due to the injury I was struggling with at the time. I’m now working hard on getting my game back to where it should be and hopefully I can hit some form at the right time.”
For any of the Spanish or English stars to get their hands on the coveted Irish Open trophy, they will, of course, have to contend with a very strong Irish contingent which includes stars like tournament host Rory McIlroy, Paul Dunne, Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington.
Tickets for the event are on sale at www.europeantour.com/tickets and begin at €20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing €32 and day tickets for the weekend costing €34 each.
An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just €110.
Concessions are available for spectators aged over 60 and between 14 and 17, while children up to 13 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.