Rafa Cabrera Bello is one of the hardest workers on and off the course so his first win in four years, at the Open de Espana on Sunday, is well deserved.
He hadn’t even finished in the top 10 at an event since January, so the omens weren’t good when he began the final round in the worst possible manner.
But Cabrera Bello showed a lot of heart to recover from that opening double bogey, which instantly wiped out his two-shot overnight lead.
He reeled off a run of three consecutive birdies from 13 and played a magnificent bunker shot to about two and a half feet at 18 to force the play-off.
The Spaniard has now won his national championship at every age group up from under-seven upwards, and that’s special. In some ways it can be harder to win on home soil.
Aside from being one of the fittest players on the tour, Cabrera Bello has always been a very solid all-rounder and did well for Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup, winning two and half points from three matches.
It hasn’t gone well for him lately, and the 37-year-old was ranked outside the top 200 before his return to form in Madrid last week.
But the pandemic caused so much disruption to people’s lives that it’s difficult to assess why his results lapsed.
Cabrera Bello is back on the rise again now, however, and can think once more about contending for another Ryder Cup appearance in 2023.
A special mention must also go to Grant Forrest, who tied for third place in Spain.
The Scot – one of eight who teed off on Thursday and all made the cut – was in great form alongside world No1 Jon Rahm on the back nine, which he played in just 28.
If Cabrera Bello’s win came against recent form then Sungjae Im’s, on the PGA Tour, was the opposite.
The South Korean was one of the most consistent players on the US circuit in 2020-21 without adding to his 2019 victory at the Honda Classic.
But he got the result his form has merited at the Shriners Children’s Open on Sunday, thanks to playing the first 13 holes in nine under par.
Im has a wonderful slow, very deliberate swing – he’s one to watch in every sense.
This week, a number of members of America’s Ryder Cup-winning team return to action at the CJ Cup.
Don’t be surprised to see a bounce in some of their performances following the record win over Europe at Whistling Straits a fortnight ago.
Top players aim to peak at the big events like the Ryder Cup and that can flow into the tournaments that come afterwards.
I remember Bernhard Langer going straight to the German Masters and winning after the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island.
Finally, hats off to Phil Mickelson, who continued his remarkable year by making it three win on the PGA Tour Champions in four attempts at the weekend.