NORTON, Mass. – While he knows the chances are slim, Rafael Cabrera-Bello still took one step toward potentially snagging a last-minute Ryder Cup roster spot with his opening round at the Dell Technologies Championship.
The Spaniard went 2-0-1 in his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Hazeltine, where he was one of few bright spots on the European side. But this time around Cabrera-Bello is barely on the outside of automatic qualification after failing to pass Thorbjorn Olesen with his play last week at The Northern Trust.
With this week’s event at TPC Boston not counting for European Ryder Cup qualification purposes, Cabrera-Bello considered making a last-minute trip to the European Tour’s Made in Denmark. But at 59th in the FedExCup standings, that decision to chase a qualification longshot likely would have meant he would not have advanced to next week’s 70-man BMW Championship.
“Obviously it was pretty hard. I love the Ryder Cup,” Cabrera-Bello said. “I thought about the possibility of going and maxing out my chance this week in Denmark, but obviously it’s not the ideal way to go and I kind of felt that I wasn’t secure for next week.”
That decision yielded some short-term payoff in his opening round, as Cabrera-Bello carded a 3-under 68 that left him in a tie for eighth, three shots behind leader Justin Rose. He closed with three birdies over his final eight holes, and his round could have been one better were it not for a birdie miss on his final hole from inside 5 feet.
European captain Thomas Bjorn will round out his team with four picks on Wednesday, but the star-studded field of candidates at his disposal will also include Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Thomas Pieters.
Cabrera-Bello has texted “briefly” with Bjorn in recent days, and he expects that his chances to make the squad likely ended last week in New Jersey. But he’s holding on to a glimmer of hope that a strong finish this weekend could make a difference.
“I feel that if I have a good week here, it might not count directly in points, but it could count indirectly because of the captain’s picks,” he said. “That’s my goal.”