Ryder Cup dreams coming true for rookies
Rafa Cabrera Bello will be making a childhood dream come true this week when he tees it up at Hazeltine National as the latest in a long and illustrious line of Spaniards to represent their continent at The Ryder Cup.
Cabrera Bello will be making his debut in Minnesota and follows in the footsteps of Ryder Cup greats such as Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal and team-mate Sergio Garcia - who is making his eighth appearance in the biennial showpiece.
Ballesteros and Olazábal formed the greatest partnership in Ryder Cup history, winning 12 points from their 15 matches together and both men went on to captain victorious teams in 1997 and 2012.
Whether Cabrera Bello will be paired with Garcia to form another Spanish dream team on Friday or Saturday remains to be seen but, whatever part he plays this week, the 32 year old is bursting with pride to wear the European colours.
"I've been dreaming about it all my life really, so that's a little over 30 years," he said. "I'm very honoured to be the tenth Spaniard who makes The Ryder Cup Team.
"Seve with his charisma, his playing, his game; his playing partner, Ollie, what they did for Europe and for Spain, too. In Ryder Cup, it's definitely very, very inspiring.
"It's going to be impossible for me to fill Seve's or Ollie's shoes. I wouldn't want that task ahead of me. I'm just proud to know that a lot of great Spanish players have made The Ryder Cup and now I am another one of them.
"I don't expect to be paired with Sergio all the time or even consider trying to beat Ollie and Seve's record because that would be a stupid task for me.
"I'm just going to play and I'm going to be available for whatever the captain decides. I am going to play and just try to give my best on every shot that I give and that's it. But I don't pretend to live up to anyone's expectations."
As well as having the support of Garcia, Cabrera Bello has been given advice by countrymen Ignacio Garrido - a member of Ballesteros' winning team in 1997 - and four-time player and two-time Vice Captain Miguel Angel Jiménez.
"My friends Sergio, Miguel and Ignacio, I grew up playing with them and Sergio and Miguel have helped me a lot to get ready for this week, mentally," he said.
"To foresee what things are going to happen and just to be ready so that when all those feelings arrive, I've already in a way experienced them or thought about them.
"Miguel, he WhatsApp'd me earlier this week wishing me all the best, just telling me to trust myself, to enjoy every second of it, and that I am ready for this."
Thomas Pieters will become just the second Belgian to play in The Ryder Cup this week and he has also been receiving advice from countryman and 2012 winner Nicolas Colsaerts.
"He was texting me, sending me videos for the last three weeks every day. I was getting bored it, it was so annoying," he joked.
"He's been really good with me. Just the main piece of advice he gave me was enjoy it as much as you can, smile. You worked hard enough to get here and now it's just a matter of enjoying it and playing good golf."
Pieters played his way to one of Darren Clarke's Captain's picks with a stunning run of form in August, culminating in a victory at the Made in Denmark and arrives in the United States full of confidence.
When asked if he had any self-doubt this week, his answer was a simple one: "No."