Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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I’ve been at home for two weeks now and the most repeated phrase is: “Dad, are you leaving for a tournament soon?” And it’s because nobody is used to seeing me for so long at a time around here. Since we moved to Miami almost two years ago, I’ve been nonstop traveling: I’ve played a lot throughout this time, way too much. Last year between juggling the Pga and the European Tours, and this 2015 season due to my poor play and the necessity to continue competing, I don’t remember the last time I was home for two weeks in a row, except for the break between seasons. Incredible but true.

Just as the wise saying goes: every cloud has a silver lining. If there was any advantage to losing my card it’s that now I can spend time at home until the start of next season on the Web.com Tour, which starts in January. Now I have three long months ahead to, in this order: spend time with family, recharge the batteries and start getting ready for next season.

What I really feel like is making up for lost time and spending time with Alice and the kids. The simple things that for many are just part of their daily routine (taking the kids to school, helping them with their homework, family dinners, etc.) but which for us are completely new, and I’m enjoying it to the max. It’s so nice not to have to use FaceTime to be able to enjoy family time! When you have the blues, when you’re alone in the hotel room and your head is spinning, the calls from Alicia and the kids on FaceTime are what pick you up and make you feel better. Suddenly, everything that happened on the course becomes secondary when you hear their voices. And now I don’t need technology to be able to enjoy their company!

Like I told you in my last post, last week was my 35th birthday. The truth is that I didn’t really feel like celebrating anything, why lie. I felt like relaxing with my family: and what better way to spend it than with the kids, because in the end they are the ones who have the most fun, with the cake, blowing out candles, singing happy birthday, etc. I started the day out in tears...but of joy!!!! It all started when Alicia gave me her gift: a video of my friends from Spain and the European Tour wishing me a happy birthday. I was really excited to see it and since I tear up easily, I ended up crying like a baby. Who cares about not breaking 80 when you have friends (and a wife) like that!!??

If you add in the fact that late that afternoon I received a call from Joe Mazzeo, director of the Mayakoba tournament, to invite me to play in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba this coming November, the day couldn’t have gone better. Anyway, a not-so-promising birthday turned into one of the best birthdays I can remember.

But I’m not writing to all of you to tell you about my personal ventures. As I told you in the last blog entry, I still believe that I haven’t yet left the best golf my game has to offer on American soil. I want to return to the PGA Tour and my best shot at doing so is through the Web.com Tour. I know I am going to have to bring out the best version of myself again in order to be on top in the tournaments and to be able to finish out 2016 among the top 25 of the Tour. The level in this tour is very high, so the journey is not going to be a bed of roses, I have that very clear.

A big part of the success or failure of a professional athlete lies in the capacity for self-criticism. I like to let a little time pass before making a cold, hard analysis of what happened throughout the season. These past two weeks served me well in that regard.

In analyzing the year that’s coming to an end, there’s no doubt that the way I played did not deserve any other outcome. I wasn’t up to par at any moment in the season: not even one Sunday fighting for the victory, not one top 10 in more than 30 tournaments played, missed more than half the cuts… Even in the last stretch of the season where I was hitting the ball well and putting much better, it was difficult for me to get good results. Sometimes a bad ending, a putter that was off one weekend and a mediocre week. But in my case, if I have to walk away with just one thing, I would say without a doubt that the mental part of my game needs a lot of work.

Spending time at home will help refresh my mind. I truly believe that being away from competition for some time is going to help me a lot. I’ve always considered my mind to be one of my strongest competitive assets with respect to the rest of the aspects, but it wasn’t the case this year. My mind didn’t work as it usually does and I made too many mental errors which cost me many shots throughout the year.