Rafa Cabrera-Bello was not one of Thomas Bjorn’s four captain’s picks for the upcoming Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. He should have been though. Here are four reasons why.
Captain’s Picks are notoriously hard to make. Despite this fact though, Ryder Cup skippers are often defined by these selections. In choosing Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter, Bjorn left-out Cabrera-Bello from his team to do battle in Paris. That could be a grave mistake that he might live to regret. Here is why.
The rankings suggest Cabrera-Bello is a better player than Garcia and Poulter
In cold hard numbers, Cabrera-Bello is above both Poulter and Garcia in the official world golf rankings. Poulter is one of the best Ryder Cup players of all time and deserves his selection. However, Garcia presence is harder to understand.
Cabrera-Bello’s recent form has been good
With Cabrera-Bello still in the race for the Fed-Ex Cup, Bjorn now runs the risk of him winning it and not being a Ryder Cup team member (he will secretly be hoping that doesn’t happen).
And that is quite a plausible scenario. In his last six events, Cabrera-Bello has finished inside the top-20 four times and is most definitely due a victory. Under immense pressure, he finished seventh at the recently concluded Dell Technologies Championship and many thought that would have been good enough to make the grade.
However, it wasn’t. All eyes will now be on Garcia’s performance in France. He has missed a staggering seven cuts in his last 12 events – that’s more cuts than he has missed in the previous three seasons combined! To pick against form is an extremely dangerous move.
Cabrera-Bello is a potential Ryder Cup great
All of Bjorn’s picks are Ryder Cup veterans who have undoubtedly added plenty to Team Europe over the years and are all Ryder Cup legends in some capacity or another (possibly with the exception of Casey).
Cabrera-Bello could be better than them all though. With a win percentage of 66 per cent at his first and only Ryder Cup two years ago in the USA, Cabrera-Bello is superior to all the players on the 2018 European Ryder Cup team with the exception of Poulter (73 per cent).
Unless he’s picked, no one will ever know if that percentage will remain the same, trend upward or trend downward.
Age and experience isn’t everything
Cabrera-Bello does not have the experience of any of the four picks.
However, that is a tough metric to have count against you. Especially considering the importance that is put on vice-captains at Ryder Cups. Bjorn should be leaning on his vice-captains to impart the lessons they have learnt over the years onto his players and should quite simply have picked the players playing the best right now.
Furthermore, the notion that experience counts for much doesn’t stand in certain contexts. As an example, in 2012, Europe won the Ryder Cup in the USA with just 26 Ryder Cup matches between the group. In 2016, Europe lost the Ryder Cup in the USA with 28 Ryder Cup matches between the group.
It’s undoubtedly a tough break for Cabrera-Bello that he hasn’t been included in the European Ryder Cup team.
His missed cut at Le Golf National (the course the Ryder Cup will be played at) earlier in the year may well have played a part.
The presence of five rookies in the European Team may well have played a part too.
Whatever the reasons, Bjorn will need his picks to perform (especially Garcia), otherwise he will receive plenty of criticism for leaving Cabrera-Bello behind.