Sport | Golf

A cut-above Spanish winner has the Midas touch

In golf, there are weeks when you can do nothing wrong. Whatever you touch turns into gold. The Omega Dubai Desert Classic was one such week for Rafael Cabrera-Bello

  • By Jeev Milkha Singh, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 February 14, 2012
  • Gulf News

Dubai: In golf, there are weeks when you can do nothing wrong. Whatever you touch turns into gold. The Omega Dubai Desert Classic was one such week for Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

The young Spaniard was a picture of consistency as he put together four fantastic rounds of golf at the Majlis course and was a deserving winner by one shot in the end. It would have been easy to dismiss his 63 on the opening day as a fluke, but that was not the case as he proved in stunning fashion as he backed it up with rounds of 69, 70 and a solid, bogey-free 68 on the final day.

Of all the statistics we have in golf, I have always placed the greatest emphasis on greens in regulation (GIR), followed by putts per GIR. Putting can sometimes be a matter of luck, and the difference between good and bad putting can be as minuscule as a couple of millimetres. But higher the percentage of GIRs means better the chances of making birdies. It is perhaps the best indicator of a player's form.

Tough, windy conditions

The point I am trying to make in relation to the tournament is that Cabrera-Bello led the Greens in Regulation stats at 85 per cent. That's an incredible number, especially considering that he played his final two rounds in tough, windy conditions.

Each and every shot matters in a tournament and this was proved once again when it took just one poor shot from Lee Westwood to lose the tournament. That chip on the 18th which rushed almost 20 feet past the pin would play on his mind for some time.

The European Tour moves to India for the Avantha Masters this week, and obviously, it is extremely exciting for me to play in front of my home fans. I am happy with my form but unfortunately I caught a bad case of the 'flu midway through the Desert Classic. The last two rounds were excruciating as I played with a running nose, throbbing head pain and fever. Hopefully, it would have passed by the time we start the tournament in Delhi.

Across the Atlantic, Phil Mickelson was imperious as he won the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach with an awesome final round of eight-under. I had written at the start of the year that he was the man to watch out for in 2012, and he has proved me right very early in the season.

Tiger Woods fumbled in the final round, but what is more important is that once again he put himself in contention. Don't pay too much attention to his poor fourth rounds in both Abu Dhabi and Pebble Beach — believe me, he is not far away from another winning stretch.

 

— Jeev Milkha Singh is a three-time champion on the European Tour

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