Rafa Cabrera Bello: Working with David Leadbetter to bring my ‘A’ Game

It’s been great being back in the UAE and getting to spend some time at home for the Desert Swing. I love living in Dubai with the great weather, lots of things to do and of course amazing golf courses

I was lucky enough to get some face time with my coach David Leadbetter at Jebel Ali Golf Resort before the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I’ve known David for almost 20 years now and am good friends with his son Andy, who is exactly my age. I’ve been going to the USA with my brother and sister for many years when we were juniors. I happened to play with Andy at one of the tournaments and David was there so we met and have been friends ever since.

When I started working more seriously with him about five years ago my swing was a bit loose and the synchronization between my arms and my body was not as consistent as it is now, it was a bit wider. Now we’ve made it more compact but we’re still working on it to try to make it better.

On a week-by-week basis we don’t do much I visit him a few times a year and we spend three to four days working hard, bringing up ideas and creating a routine that I can use for the next couple of months. I’m able to keep in touch with him during the season due to the joys of modern technology! I send him videos of my practice sessions on my phone which he can send feedback on, so we are always communicating.

I take a lot of elements from David’s ‘A Swing’ technique in my swing. I do don’ follow the book word-by-word as he actually didn’t give me permission to read it as he doesn’t want me to get too technical! But the basic principle of being steeper on the backswing and shallower on the downswing are there in my swing and I do believe the fundamentals of The A Swing have helped me.

A big change for me this season is that I have changed caddies. It was a hard decision to switch as my previous caddie, Mike Batty has been with me for five years and we had a great season last year. It was just the fact that I’m going to be playing in more events on the PGA Tour and not knowing the courses I’m going to play there very well was a disadvantage. Mike didn’t know about the US courses either so I really felt that I needed someone who had the experience with courses from both tours. Colin Byrne, my new caddie, has the experience and the personality to push me forward, especially in the US, and I feel confident that this year will be a great for us. I hope I’ve made the right decision and his knowledge could be the difference for me.

New caddie, same intentions

Playing on both tours is a challenge because it’s easy to overload your schedule with events. It puts pressure on me as I want to play well in all of the events. But I’m confident because I’ve been playing in the US more and more over the last five years.

The Desert Swing has been great as always and I can’t wait for the grand finale at the Desert Classic. For me the Emirates Golf Club has the best course in the region and I’m not saying that because I won on it! It is a complete course, and it is in excellent shape in the fantastic city of Dubai.

Every time I enter the course and see my name on the Desert Classic trophy it brings me a positive feeling. Tiger Woods is making his return this year and it’s great for the tournament and great for him to be fit and getting his career on the go again. I think it is great for the sport to have him back but I still hope I beat him at Emirates Golf Club!