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July 10, 2018

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Gullane, Scotland

TOM CARLISLE: Like to welcome back the defending champion, Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Welcome to Gullane. Fantastic to return to any tournament as a defending champion, but last year, fantastic victory after a few years out of the winner's circle.

RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Yes, thank you very much. Obviously last year was fantastic. That Sunday was very special. I've been enjoying the day and shooting 64, course record, getting myself into the playoff and then hitting that great shot in for the eagle chance.

TOM CARLISLE: Is there something about this time of year that you enjoy when it comes to golf?

RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Yes, I mean, I love playing links golf. Obviously Scottish Open and The Open, they are a great links test. It's hard to plan the schedule so that you know when you're going to peak, but obviously last year, I was very, very pleased that I peaked right about this time, and this year, I'm hoping the same thing happens.

I feel good with my game. I know I'm hitting the ball good, so I'm looking forward.

TOM CARLISLE: You played here in 2015. What are your memories of the golf course?

RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Yeah, I remember it being very wide open, very exposed to the elements. I think in 2015, it was a tough weather week, playing a little different because the course was much more humid than it is right now. I played a few holes this morning and it does look fairly dry. Greens still receptive. They clearly poured water on them, which is great, because the rest of the course looks really dry and extremely challenging.

I know it's a great course. Last time it produced a very exciting finish and a great champion, and I'm looking forward to playing this week.

Q. Is there a chance, that if the course stays in the condition it's in at the moment, very little wind, the course could really be destroyed this week?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: I mean, I don't know, destroyed. I'm sure that -- obviously it's meant to be played especially with a lot of wind. Fairways are wider than other links and the greens, as they were today, I felt they were still softer, but there's good weather. The greens can dry up pretty quickly. There's lots of pot bunkers here that look like baseball gloves; they catch every single ball.

There could be a very, very low score. Obviously if the weather is good, you would expect that the winning score is lower than last time. But I'm sure it's still going to be a tough test.

Q. How much do you use this week as preparation for Carnoustie next week?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Yeah, you're playing links golf. You're getting used to playing normally in windy conditions. You're getting used to playing on courses with run-offs. You're getting used to being very aware of the pot bunkers off the tee, as opposed to just going and trying to smash your driver as hard as you can. So you're developing your imagination with putting from ten, 15, 20 yards short of the green, as well, trying to hit 4-irons 150 yard into the wind or 8-iron 220 yards.

It takes a little bit of adjustment, but I mean, I really embrace the challenge.

Q. I think you're ranked 25th in the world this week. What's been the key to take your game over the last few years to that next level, do you think?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Well, obviously, I've worked very hard over the last few years to improve in the World Ranking. I have a big team around me that helps me in all different parts of the game, and then, no, I just feel more mature. I trust myself more -- not as much as I would like to or hope I will some day but I feel I'm improving little by little, getting to know my strength and my weaknesses better. Just trying to play every week with the best attitude I can towards it and some weeks, the putts drop in and I can play good.

But overall, I mean, I think the difference is -- I mean, attitude is better than it was five, six, seven years ago, and then all members of my team have helped me get better at my -- at my job little by little.

Q. When you say attitude, do you mean sort of out on the course, losing your temper or losing patience or what kind of things in the past would have been an issue?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Yeah, I mean, I tend to be a little bit of a perfectionist. Maybe sometimes I'm too hard on myself. I mean, I try hard and of course I expect things to go my way, but I have to understand that sometimes it's not like that. I just have to take it a little easier on myself and always believe in me. Make sure that mistakes don't get me down and that I can trust in myself while playing and that's -- I mean, I've fought till the end. I learned to fight smarter, as opposed to getting angry, hitting two or three shots angry, that may or may not cost you shots and then trying to find back.

Now, just learning, let the anger go away or delay it until the round is over and focus on the task and never giving up. That is something crucial for me and it helps me sleep good at night.

Q. Who is better or worse at controlling and being angry on the course, yourself or Jon Rahm? Who would win?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: I can only speak for myself. I think whatever Jon is doing is working very well. He's been up to No. 2 in the world. He's an unbelievable player, and sometimes we forget that he's only 23, 24 years old. I wish I had those rankings that he has when I was 23, as well. He will be the one to judge his own character, but I think that whatever he's doing is working very, very good.

Q. There are a few people mentioning The Ryder Cup. How much is that on your mind, thinking about The Ryder Cup?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Yeah, of course it's been a goal since the beginning of the year. I mean, I had a really nice experience last year -- last time, up to the moment that we had lost. But still, you learn that just being part of it is beyond winning or losing, and of course, I would love to play again and lift that trophy. I'm going to do everything I can.

But I know that what worked for me last time was not to think about it. Just one shot at a time. I mean, being part of The Ryder Cup is beyond my control. All I can control is how I play each shot I have, and that's what I need to do, try to play shots the best I possibly can, add them all up at the end of the day and hopefully within a few months, that would have been good enough to make the team.

Q. People mentioning about the trophy. Did you drink anything from the trophy, and what would you mean to lift it?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Of course, I drank out of the trophy. Yeah, I actually had whisky. I didn't drink too much because I have just a small tournament coming up the following week, so I couldn't let myself go, but I did celebrate nicely. I drank whisky the following week after The Open. I think I Tweeted about it, celebrating The Scottish Open the right way.

It would be amazing. I've never defended a title. It's got to be a good feeling. It's going to be a different feeling because I'm not on the same course that I was last year, so I cannot draw off those memories particularly on the course, but I will draw off the atmosphere and on the crowd that was very supportive last time -- well, actually, every single year. So hopefully that will get me in my best performance.

Q. How well do you know Carnoustie?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: I'm going to say this, because I think I know Carnoustie very well because I played the Dunhill Links many, many times, but then, I'm also aware that it is a completely different course for The Open than for the Dunhill Links.

I remember how tough it was the last two occasions that I watched on TV, how difficult the course played, and it's a real, real patience test. We're not allowed to talk about betting or anything like that, so I cannot encourage anyone to put me on their team, but I'm happy with where my game is at the moment. I know the last couple weeks, the scoring hasn't been good, but I don't think they have really shown the way I have been hitting the ball and I'm encouraged and I'm looking forward to the next couple weeks.

Q. The home support this week will be for Russell Knox, and he's had a fantastic couple weeks in France and Ireland, what do you make of his come back? He dropped out of the Top-100 in the world, and how big a threat -- is he a real contender in your eyes, and for The Ryder Cup Team, as well?
RAFA CABRERA-BELLO: Absolutely. He was already in the mix last time. I don't see a reason why he shouldn't make the team, as well, especially with the form he's shown lately. I don't take him as a threat. I don't feel threatened by any other competitor. I just focus on what I can do, and what I can do is play the best golf I can, and I know the other ones are going to be trying the same. Hopefully I can do enough merit to get on the team on my own.

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