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Hopes fade for defending champion Cabrera-Bello

Spaniard concedes he needs the best weekend of his life to reclaim Dubai title

Image Credit: VIirendra Saklani/Gulf News
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Gulf News

Dubai: Omega Dubai Desert Classic defending champion Rafael Cabrera-Bello has admitted he needs to have “the best weekend of his life” to reclaim his crown after two 69s left him at six under par heading into round three.

The World No 56 recorded three birdies on either nine in round two on Friday, but also bogeyed three on the back. That followed Thursday’s late four-birdie recovery after an early bogey.

“I know I have to play really good and have a great weekend — the best weekend of my life — if I want to try and win again,” said the 28-year-old Spaniard.

“I’ve had two good nines on either day but the other two have not been so great. I hope I can put a good 18 in a row tomorrow [Saturday] and shoot lower, which I think I need if I want to keep my trophy.”

The winner of five titles since turning professional in 2005, the last one being this event in 2012, added: “This is obviously not the same feeling as last year. I had the lead from the first round then and, even though I lost my lead at some stage, I felt up there all the time.

“Here I feel I’m in contention, which is what I want coming into the weekend — a chance to do something special again. Hopefully I can keep that chance alive.”

Asked if he acknowledged a score beyond which he would have to concede his title, Cabrera-Bello said: “More than six shots in the last day with a lot of people up the leaderboard and it starts to become difficult.

“I’ve hit nine under here before and it could happen again. Up to five shots anything could happen, but after that it becomes hard — unless it’s only one guy in front, because if it’s one then there are many variables.

“I know I can play well here and if I have a little bit of luck, put myself in contention and have a chance, I will definitely go for it.”

If successful, Cabrera-Bello would be the first person to defend the Desert Classic crown and only the third since Ernie Els and Tiger Woods to win it more than once.