Gran Canaria Lopesan Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
IT IS a big week for Rafa Cabrera Bello. The Spaniard returns home to host the inaugural Gran Canaria Lopesan Open, the first of two tournaments being played in this part of the world. And he knows that he needs some big weeks if he is to have any chance of claiming a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
He is well outside the automatic qualification positions for Padraig Harrington’s team to take on the USA at Whistling Straits this autumn. However, he knows that things could quickly turn around with a couple of decent weeks. And what better place to start?
Cabrera Bello, who was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, will host and participate in the first event of the new ‘Canary Islands Swing’ at Meloneras Golf in Maspalomas, which will be followed by the Tenerife Open at Golf Costa Adeje on April 29-May 2 and the Tenerife Championship at Golf Costa Adeje.
Cabrera Bello is passionate about the development of golf in the Canary Islands, and in 2019 he established the Circuito Juvenil Rafa Cabrera Bello, an annual series of tournaments for children and young golfers around the archipelago. The circuit that will celebrate its third test on Saturday, April 24, at Maspalomas Golf Club, at the same time the professionals are fighting for the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open title in Meloneras.
The 36-year-old took up the game at the age of six on Gran Canaria and he went on to win the Spanish National Championship every year from under-seven to under-18 level.
Now an established European Tour star, Cabrera Bello’s third and most significant European Tour victory came at the 2017 Scottish Open, when he secured his first Rolex Series title. That triumph followed an impressive Ryder Cup debut for Team Europe, as he remained undefeated from his three matches at Hazeltine National in 2016.
Following a strong start to 2021 with a fourth place finish at the season opening Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Cabrera Bello is looking forward to coming home.
He said: “It’s a proud moment for me to host a tournament on Gran Canaria and I can’t wait to tee off in the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open at Meloneras Golf. Although I’m now lucky to travel all over the world playing golf, I have remained connected to the Canary Islands and was proud to be able to establish the Circuito Juvenil Rafa Cabrera Bello in association with Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas in 2019.
“Although we’re not able to welcome spectators in person in the current climate, I hope that young players will be inspired by having two European Tour events in the Canary Islands, and I thank everyone involved in making both of these tournaments happen.”
The Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and Tenerife Open mark the European Tour’s return to the Canary Islands for the first time since 1995, when Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin defeated legendary Spaniard Seve Ballesteros and England’s Paul Eales by one shot to win the Open de Canaria at Campo de Golf da Maspalomas on Gran Canaria.
Unsurprisingly, there is a strong Spanish presence in the field, including Pablo Larrazabal, Jorge Campillo and Adrian Otaegui. But don’t bet a huge amount of money on a home win as tour winners John Catlin, Andrea Pavan, Chris Wood, Thorbjorn Olesen, Justin Harding, Eddie Pepperell, Alexander Levy, and Joost Luiten are also heading to Gran Canaria.
Pavan has endured a thoroughly miserable run of late, with a string of missed cuts and some injury issues but the two-time winner possesses a glorious golf swing and a temperament and will surely turn things around soon. And Catlin, who won the Irish Open and Andalucia Masters last September, is in form again, as he demonstrated in Austria.
Justin Harding. Riding high
Rafa Cabrera Bello. Could do with a win
Justin Harding. Underrated, but a proven winner
Rafa Cabrera Bello. Needs to arrest rankings slump
John Catlin. Showed some incredible form in 2020
Eddie Pepperell. Has kind of lost his way
Alex Levy. Mercurial talent
Joost Luiten. Feisty Dutchman in search of form
Shubhankar Sharma. Finally showing some signs of his best again
Sam Horsfield. Capable of winning anywhere
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Tags: european tour