Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi everyone. As always, I’m writing to you from up in the air, this time coming back from Doha to Miami and the flight, which is a total 16 and a half hours long, makes for a lot of free time.

I already knew that combining tours this year and playing more in Europe was going to be a bit more of a struggle, but as I always say, working in something you enjoy is never a chore! I’ve never had a problem with long flights. I have my routine which consists of watching movies, series, reading, sleeping, etc. The hardest part for me are the airports, the lines, luggage, waiting time, etc. That is, without a doubt, my least favorite part of the journey, as well as being far from home, from Alicia and the kids. But anyway, I’m not writing to all of you to complain, but rather to tell you the good news and about the progress in my game, which is quite notable.

The truth is that I’m very, very happy with how the year started. It’s been 6 straight weeks of tournaments in which I’ve managed to finish high up in the rankings, with two top 5s and a top 10. The other weeks, unfortunately, I did not make the cut in Panama and Oman, and I’ve still got the thorn in my side from it, because I really liked the courses and I would have loved to be able to play through the weekend. On the other hand, those free weekends are always very productive as far as resting up and training to get ready for the following week, correcting the mistakes and setbacks I had. As my new caddie Omar Peralta says, there’s no better day to practice than Saturday! Although I personally would prefer to be competing.

My game has been solid throughout the start of the year, much better than how I had been hitting the previous months. In December I started to work with Greg Rose in Del Mar, California, and his advice helped me out a lot: he told me that when I start the downswing I thrust my hips toward the ball, which leaves me with no space for my arms to come down. It’s something I already knew that I had spent a long time trying to fix before, but it was his explanation on how the hips move (especially the right one) on the downswing, which changed the way I thought a golf swing was supposed to be. And even after 30 years playing golf, it’s never too late to learn something new, especially so important as that. The technical work during the preseason was very tough, but the changes and improvements were apparent pretty quickly, which is why I was so eager to start the season to see if I was truly capable of utilizing what I had learned in practice in the games. And these 6 weeks are proof that we are on the right track, which is an incredible self-esteem boost and has restored faith in the work we’ve been doing since last June.

Since I started working with Mariano Bartolome (always under Jose Carlos Gutierrez’s invaluable help and guidance) we have been progressing constantly. It’s been a slow process, little by little, sometimes slower than we would have liked, but always in the right direction. We initially focused on the downward line of the club, so that it would be more direct and not so much from the inside. After that, we focused on the movement of my body on the backswing, so that it would be more horizontal instead of vertical and losing height, and now we are finally moving on to the movement of my hips on the downswing. It’s all related, there’s no question, and if I don’t start the swing off with a fluid turn, coordinating the rest of the movement is very difficult. It’s been a trial and error process, slow and frustrating a lot of the time, but which has helped me reach a better understanding of my swing and what is happening when I miss shots on the course.

Unfortunately, in the process of working on the swing, I left other parts of my game unattended to, one being the short game. I haven’t been as accurate as I usually am in that aspect, and it shows in the results. I left with the sensation that in these past weeks, especially in Doha, the only thing that kept me from being able to win was my poor performance around the greens. The good thing is that now I have three weeks ahead for everything to fall into place and to get my touch back, and even more importantly, the confidence I lost.

I’ve also made changes physically and I’ve been working with David Alexander and his team at DBC Fitness since November, where other pros go such as Gary Woodland, recommended by Brandon Gilliam, physical therapist for the Miami Heat. I’ve got to say I’m quite happy with the progress, and despite the fact that in the US I’ve been losing ground with the driver, when I go to Europe it seems as though I’m not so short, which motivates me to keep working to get in shape, most importantly to prevent injuries.

Many of you ask me what the plan is going forward, mainly taking into consideration that I’ve started to play well in both tours. As you know, since we moved to the US, my priority has always been to focus on the American tour. The plan is still the same. The idea is to try to secure the PGA Tour card as soon as possible, and that’s why I’m going to focus more on the Web.com Tour until summer. With the exception of the Spanish Open and perhaps the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, I’ll be playing in the USA up until the US Open approximately, starting in Louisiana and Georgia in three weeks time.

Speaking of the Spanish Open, I’m very excited that our national Open will be held in Madrid. It’s been a long time since I’ve competed at home (since 2011) and I’m counting down the days until April already. The fact that the tournament will be held in the National Golf Center, public course for all federated golfers, will make it a very special tournament. I’d like to congratulate everyone who made that possible: to Keith Pelley for keeping his word and bringing the tournament back to the European Tour, and the Spanish and Madrid Federations for their consistently solid commitment to professional Spanish golf. Despite everything having been very last minute, I think it’s wonderful news for all Spanish golf fans.

Additionally, the week before, Sergio will be defending his green jacket, or perhaps putting it on to another Spaniard on Sunday. And what a sensation Jon Rahm has been, he doesn’t cease to amaze me, week after week. I know that in the past few weeks in the last rounds, things didn’t go how Rahm and all of us would have liked them to, but it’s important to take into consideration how difficult it is to be in contention Sunday after Sunday. There aren’t many golfers who have that consistency, and that’s why he’s number 2 in the world!! Enough said! And Spanish golf is out in full force: three golfers in the top 25 in the world and well-established in both tours (Rahm, Garcia and Cabrera), Jorge Campillo working his way up to the top of the European Tour and starting to play in the big tournaments, Larrazábal and Otaegui fighting each Sunday to win again in Europe, Quirós starting to get his game back and young, promising golfers such as Scott Fernández, Pigem, Oriol and Del Val, especially the first one. I think there are plenty of reasons to show up to the National Center to enjoy the best golf, Spanish and European. I hope to see you there! Best regards to everyone and thank you for reading.