Rafa Cabrera Bello: Learning the ropes as ‘global’ player on both PGA and European Tour

Extensive travel is a fact of life for any tour player but playing a committed schedule on both the European Tour and the PGA Tour takes a different kind of stamina, both mental and physical.

I’m looking forward to getting back on the European Tour for an exciting finish to the season leading up to the DP World Tour Championship. It’s been a new experience for me, playing on both tours (PGA and European) this season.

I’m one of the the only players fully committed to both tours with an extensive schedule on both. A lot of the leading European Tour players who are playing in the PGA Tour and based in America play four or five events to keep their card, but I’ve played about 16 or 17 and I haven’t even finished the season yet so it will end up being over 20 European Tour events including the Majors and World Golf Championships. I’m very proud of how I’ve performed this year.

It’s my first full year on the PGA Tour and I finished very well, playing the three FedEx Cup events at the end of the season and I was proud to get that far while splitting my time with the European Tour. It was my first taste of the FedEx Cup and the events were fantastic but it was a lot of pressure to put myself under at the end of the season as I’ve been traveling quite extensively so I was physically and mentally tired although still very motivated to try and play as well as I could.

Playing both tours requires a lot of stamina. I’m used to travelling a lot but this year has certainly been a challenge. Trying to get as much rest as I can between events has been difficult, but my commitment to my physical fitness has certainly helped me on the way. On the road, I’ve been traveling with my fiancé Sofia and my manager Richard during this period and it’s been important to have some breaks together. For example, in Memphis we went to Elvis’ original home, Graceland! We walked around there for an afternoon and it was nice to be able to do something else other than just seeing the golf course and your hotel room. After the US PGA Championship, Sofia and I went to California where we went surfing and relaxed on the beach for a week to recharge the batteries. Kelly Slater, the surfing icon who I’m honoured to call my friend, came down and joined us and we had an afternoon coffee and a bite to eat with him and his girlfriend which was very nice. I try and break it up the best I can and I believe it’s going to be a learning process playing a ‘global’ schedule.

Adjusting to different time zones is half the battle for anyone who’s doing the amount of travelling that I’m doing. I just try to get adjusted to the new country’s time zone as quickly as possible and get committed into my routine which consists of working on my physical fitness and practising ahead of tournaments. I’m tired and jetlagged at times and that does affect my performance which is one of the challenges that come with being a global player, trying to perform at the top level whilst travelling around the world.

I’m not sure if I’ll do exactly the same schedule next year but I certainly want to maintain my European Tour Membership and my commitment to the tour. I enjoy the PGA Tour and love playing against the best players in the world, whether that be in Europe or in America. I’ll review my schedule at the end of the year because it is a Ryder Cup year so I think it’s important that I spend some valuable time in Europe. Somehow, I’m going to have to try and squeeze in my 15 events on the PGA Tour, which is the minimum number, and commit as many tournaments as I can to the European Tour so I can achieve my goal of playing another Ryder Cup for Europe.

I’ve also had the small matter of a wedding to plan this year, which has been an added challenge, but an exciting one and I’m really looking forward to it. Sofia and myself have been constantly planning it although I have to admit she’s done most of the work whilst accompanying me on tour. We are just going through the final preparations for our December wedding in the Canary Islands and it’s certainly been a welcome distraction. We’re really looking forward to spending a few special days with our close friends and family and welcoming them all to a new chapter of our life together.