Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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I was really excited to see Francesco win the Open last Sunday. When you see that things are going well for a friend, and all his hard work paying off, you feel really happy for him. I've known him for more than twenty years. I remember playing the Topolino Trophy with him, in 93 and 94. The Europe Boys, an Italian-Spanish match that I think still exists...Just as he said, the connection between the Spaniards and the Italians has always been special, and if additionally the two Molinari brothers speak perfect Spanish, it’s an even bigger connection.

We also played a Palmer Cup together and a representation agency came, Hambric Sports, and they took us both on at once, so we were even more united after that because we spent a lot of time together. Apart from our time together as amateurs, we also played the last phase of the Qualifying School in San Roque together, and I remember that he brought Edoardo as his caddie...We went into the European Tour together, and our careers have always been very intertwined. Unfortunately, in the past few years they have drifted apart a bit because I lost the card, and since I’ve been living in the US, we don’t see each other as much.

I admire him a lot. He is one of the most professional golfers I know. And moreover, always looking out for Valentina, his wife, and his kids, who are the same age as my kids. Alicia and Valentina are friends, and Francesco, together with Álvaro Quirós are two of my best friends in the tour. I’m happy for Francesco’s parents as well because they are a wonderful family. We want to play the Zurich together in New Orleans, which means I have to earn my PGA Tour card back. It would be an honor to play with a friend, and on top of that a ‘major winner’...

It’s always surprised me how few times Francesco has won, ‘few times’ for the type of player he is. It’s true that his putt started to fall through in some pivotal moments, but if there’s anyone that’s worked hard on their short game and has talked to all the gurus there are on the putt and the approach, it’s him. I think he improved with Dave Stockton, and now with Phil Kenyon when he became a solid putter, and proof of that is what he did on Sunday, landing a few important putts from between one and a half meters and two meters away, together with how solid the putt was on the 18th.

I hope to get the best version of my game back as well, and to be able to play with him soon. When you see a friend do what he did, you’re happy for him, you’re excited and at the same time it motivates you...you see it’s someone who you grew alongside as a golfer, whom you’ve beaten on numerous occasions, although he probably beat me more times, and you say to yourself that if he can, why not me? You see him win and it makes you dream, and want to get moving. I want to play at that level and I can dream. And that’s what I’m going to do: try to get the best version of my game back and, I’m not talking winning a major, but rather returning to golf’s elite world, something I still believe is possible.