Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi everyone. The year 2019 is coming to an end, and I wanted to write to tell you a little about how I feel regarding this season, and my plans for the short and medium terms.

There’s not a shadow of a doubt that in the professional realm, it was not a great year, quite possibly the worst of my golf career, the results speak for themselves. I played in 26 tournaments, and only made 14 cuts, and my best ranking was eighteenth place in Denmark. I think it’s the first time in my whole career that I didn’t even make it once to the top 10 in the whole year, a reflection of the inconsistency of my game throughout the season.  

I started the year off really motivated after a great pre season of physical training with Felix Flores at DBC, and technical training with Jamie Gough. When I started working with Jamie, my club was coming to much from the inside with an open face which meant I had to use my hands upon impact to correct it (flip). That caused me to make errors toward the left and the right, which generated lots of insecurity due to not knowing where I would miss in any given moment. Jamie focused on squaring up the club face and thus, straightening it out, in such a way that it wouldn’t be so dependent on my hands when hitting the ball, and in doing so, to avoid the dreaded miss to the left. The results on the driving range were surprisingly good, but I wasn’t capable of replicating those good vibes on the course: I managed to control the movement on the practice area and in the practice rounds, but it was hard for me to consistently perform during competition. It was that, together with the fact that my putting was not at the level it has been in previous years, which resulted in bad, inconsistent results. 

Throughout the past few weeks, I tried to get those good vibes back from before. I spent many afternoons and nights thinking about what I was doing in 2012 and 2013, when I played well, what I would think about when I hit the ball, or how I felt during that time. Strangely enough, I was able to get some of those good feelings back, thanks to the fact that I am very detail oriented, and I have the habit of noting my thoughts and sensations about my swing after each session. Thus, on that Sunday in Mauritius, I shot a 68, which doesn’t seem like so much on paper, but for me it marked a very clear before and after as far as where I’m at with my swing and where I want to be. A round which, if it weren’t for a triple bogey on the second-to-last shot and several short, erratic putts, could easily have been a 62 or 63. I need to get those good vibes/thoughts back that worked for me that day, and which since have been replaced by numerous technical thoughts that only lead to a mental and physical block. 

But I don’t want to get stuck on the negatives as I always like to look at the glass as half full. I learned so much this year, in which my work with Jamie taught me a lot about understanding certain aspects I was unaware of before. Just the fact that I was fine physically and injury-free, is another positive point to draw from 2019. On the other hand, having played exclusively in the European Tour is positive in and of itself, as I was able to spend a lot of time with good friends and got back in touch with many people who I hadn’t seen in a long time. There’s no doubt that in the European Tour, there is more of a family feeling, where friendship and camaraderie are a priority. There have been some very fun times among friends, and also emotional, like bidding farewell to Chema Wentworth, Campillo’s long due first win or Larrazábal and Colsaerts’ victories after so many years without winning. The success of the revamped Open de España, and the icing on the cake, Jon winning the Race to Dubai, which had not happened since Seve’s time and of which we should all be very proud, especially Jon. 

On the negative side of things, there’s the poor level of play throughout the year, with no options to win on any occasion. Losing the European Tour card for the first time in my career and not having been able to get it back in the Qualifying School. Not having performed in the two tournaments in Spain, the Estrella Damn Valderrama Masters and the Mutuactivos Open de España, where I didn’t make either of the two cuts, which did not sit well with me at all. Playing with my good friend Mateo Mannasero and seeing how he got mentally blocked first hand, to the point of not even being able to take the club back the club, was another tough moment. 

As far as my plans for the short and medium terms, I truly believe I need a break. After losing the European Tour card, with my new category 18, I’ll only be allowed to play in approximately 10 to 12 tournaments, which means I will have a lot of time on my hands, whether I like it or not. Even so, I’ve decided to take around a three month break, mainly to reset mentally and to get a little of the love for the game back and the desire to compete. So I’ve decided to sacrifice the tournaments in Australia and South Africa, and to start playing again in March if all goes as planned and I get into the tournaments in Oman and Qatar. If not, I will start the year off at Valderrama in April. I think the break is going to be a really good thing for me to recharge my batteries, get in good shape, and most of all to clear my head of all the bad shots and bad swings. Meanwhile, I will try not to get too involved in Twitter troubles, and to stay as low key as possible around the house, seeing as how nor Alicia, nor the kids are used to seeing so much of me here. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that in 2020, I’ll be doing some collaborations as a commentator for Movistar Golf, starting with the Players and the Masters. I’m very excited for the project (I’ve already done it once during my time at university and as an amateur), and I’d like to thank Maria Camarero for the opportunity.  A  new project I’m passionate about. The same passion I still have  for competing at the highest level, and who knows, maybe to win again in a major tour, you never know!

I’d also like like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and to a 2020 full of birdies! Thanks for reading.