Rafael Cabrera-Bello & His Amazing US Open Adventure
When I saw the Spanish flag up towards the top of the leaderboard yesterday I didn't immediately think of Rafael Cabrera-Bello. You probably didn't either.
Of all the Spaniards in the field he's probably the least known on these shores... and he hasn't really been playing all that well lately. To say the least.
Jason Sobel broke it down with this succinct analysis: "Mired in a poor European Tour campaign, with a best finish of T-17 in 15 appearances so far."
Therefore many were surprised when the dust cleared at the end of yesterday's grueling first round and his was the name beside that Spanish flag... the one at T4, just a shot back from the leader group.
His route to that lofty leaderboard spot was somewhat circuitous. After qualifying in Spain, a series of misadventures with passports, visas and lost luggage almost derailed his first ever US Open start... before it even started. But everything fell into place in the nick of time, and he was the first... of the 156 man field... to tee off yesterday morning.
And that's when the magic started and a player who was under everyone's radar rose to the top.
One of my favorite golf bloggers and someone I've followed on Twitter for over three years (we were both early adopters) is @Ovidiov of the stellar Spanish golf blog, Fuera des Limites.
He comes from Spain's Canary Islands as does Senor Cabrera-Bello. They've played together at a number of ProAms and belong to the same club. Have a look at the video Ovidiov posted of the one-time European Tour winner hitting balls at their club's practice range. To my mind, the landscape has some similarities with the one he's playing right now. Perhaps that's a reason for his Pebble Beach success.
Of course first rounds mean little historically, so we'll see what happens today, but however things turn out Rafa Cabrera-Bello will certainly never forget the first round of the 2010 US Open.