Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi everyone. I'm writing again from up in the air in the plane on the way back from Malaga to New York, after having spent a week of R&R in Marbella with Alice and the kids. What a pleasure to able to return to the Costa del Sol, we hadn't gone since October of last year and had been missing it quite a bit! 

Every time I’m there, it helps me disconnect and recharge my batteries, which I was really in need of considering the intense schedule I have planned for this summer. This week I start at the Greenbrier and embark upon a tour of 7 weeks straight competing, something I've never done in my entire 10 years as a professional golfer. After the subpar results this season, it's necessary to make a substantial change to the schedule. My idea was to play in Europe during this time, but after the let-down at the US Open, I decided to cancel my participation in the BMW International Open in Germany to be able to compete again in the US, in order not to lose my spot in the rankings of the PGA Tour.

Throughout these past weeks of competition, a lot has happened. A good start in Memphis, coming to a sudden halt during the weekend worth forgetting; the US Open where nothing went right and the Travelers Championship where I played the most consistent golf of the season.

We'll start with Memphis. It was a complicated week due to the intense heat and the constant storms that interrupted the game throughout the entire week. My putt was off, especially during the weekend, apart from the fact that I've never known how to read the TPC Southwind greens, with very grainy Bermuda grass that drove me absolutely crazy! I ended up with a humble T46 after rounds of 67, 70, 71 and 73.

The best part of the week was the visit to St. Jude Hospital on Tuesday, where we were able to spend the afternoon playing miniature golf with the children from the hospital. It was a very moving experience that really grounds you and helps put things into perspective.

If there's something I like about the US, it's the amount of charitable work they do, both on a corporate level as well as on a personal level, and the perfect example of that is St. Jude. The hospital was founded in 1962 by actor Danny Thomas with the sole objective being to help kids with cancer, completely and totally free of charge. To date, the hospital has a budget of 800 million dollars a year (it costs 2 million dollars a day to maintain) funded completely by personal donations. When the hospital opened in the 60’s there was only a 4% recovery rate for ALL (the most common type of children's leukemia). Now, 50 years later, the rate is up to 94! What an amazing work they do at St Jude. Hats off!

At the US Open, I started out motivated after the great game I had from tee to green that unfolded at Memphis. After a few practice rounds, I was even more excited because the Pinehurst #2 course adapted perfectly to my game: not excessively demanding off the tee and complicated greens where the irons and the short game would be key. Monday, I went out accompanied by a local caddie, Michael Wilson, who revealed all of the course's secrets to me, especially on the greens that got nasty. Unfortunately, nothing went right and we said our goodbyes to the tournament on Friday after a round of 76. To top it all off, that same day was Spain's debut in the World Cup against Holland. Friday the 13th.

After missing the cut at Pinehurst, I decided to spend the weekend there since I would be traveling to Hartford on Sunday to play the Travelers Championship. I shared a house with Italians, Francesco Molinari and Andrea Pavan, and on Saturday we enjoyed watching the game between Italy and England. It was an “armchair-ball” kind of weekend and gym time, accompanied by the spectacular show put on by our good friend Martin Kaymer for all lovers of this sport. What an incredible display of golf!

The TPC River Highlands is one of the few courses I already knew about, since I had the pleasure of playing there last year thanks to an invitation from the sponsor, Travelers. During the practice days I was trying out different putters, and it seems as though it paid off since it was one of my best putting weeks all year. My game was consistent and organized throughout the entire week, a shame what happened on the last 7 holes on Saturday in which I ended up with a partial of +5, because otherwise I would have put up a good fight among the top seeds on Sunday.

And what can I say about Kevin Streelman's final results with 7 birdies on the last 7 holes, winning the tournament by just on shot! I felt bad for Sergio with whom I've shared many dinners that week, but someone who pulls off something so incredible deserves to win. One night we even had the pleasure of dinning with tennis legend Ivan Lendl, a golf freak as well. It's always interesting to get to know the top players of other sports, I think there's a lot to be learned from all of them. Hopefully it rubbed off on me, and that I'll be able to tell you all about it in my next post!

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