Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi everyone. I’ve finally finished the last post of the year. The year 2015 is coming to end, which for me has been, without a doubt, the worst season of my professional career. A season which unfortunately did not go well and which I couldn’t wait to finish in order to close the chapter once and for all. I hope that next year, when I write to you, it will be only to tell you good news, because these posts have felt more like a funeral than a blog in the end!

Since my last post, nothing much has happened. After the Web.com Tour Finals in September, I had about a month’s rest before participating in the Sanderson Farms and the OHL Classic, both PGA Tour tournaments in which I competed thanks to sponsor’s invites. In the first one, I finished in 15th place, my best ranking of the year, and in the second I missed the cut after a first round full of mistakes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank once again the  tournament sponsors and the tournament directors, Steve Jent and Joe Mazzeo, for letting me be part of such great events.

Last week I was in Palm Beach where we played in the Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying School. I wasn’t obligated to play, but I had the opportunity to improve my ranking for next year, which was worth a shot. Additionally, the course where it was held, the PGA National, is just over an hour from home, which is why I decided it could be a good week as far as preparing for next year. As I mentioned before, the objective was to improve my status and thus to avoid the first re-rankings at the start of the season, but unfortunately I was unable to achieve that goal this time. In order to have reached the objective, I would have had to finish among the top 45, but I ended up in 58th place, just two shots away from the goal, which means that next year I’m going to have to start the season off strong to avoid unwanted surprises.

The best part of the week was that José Carlos Gutiérrez, my coach since 2003, came all the way from Spain ‘to the rescue’. Together we worked all week, night and day, on different aspects of my swing and short game. I think we did a great job and above all, we laid the foundation for the preseason which has already started to pay off during the last few days in Palm Beach, where if my putt would have been a bit more on point, I could have finished with very low scores in difficult playing conditions due to strong winds.

As I’ve already mentioned on other occasions, next year I really want to focus on the Web.com Tour. But that doesn’t mean not playing in other major tours, the PGA and the European Tour either, in which I will compete as long as the Web.com Tour calendar permits.

Regarding the PGA Tour, due to my ranking (151-200th place Fedex Cup 2015) I won’t even have the opportunity to play in more than 2 or 3 tournaments, normally the smaller ones, that coincide with the WGCs and Majors. Thus, for that I will have to rely on invitations, as well as playing in some Monday qualifyings (in the PGA Tour tournaments, except for the invitationals, every Monday there is a qualifying tournament in which 3 or 4 spots are granted for the tournament that week), up to a maximum of 12 tournaments, limit established by the PGA Tour for golfers who are non-members.

In the European Tour, more of the same. My exemption from the win in the BMW Masters in 2013 comes to an end this year, which means that next year I will have to play on invitations, up to a maximum of 7 (limit established by the ET a few years ago after some golfers abused the privileges). I will also be able to play in European Tour events that I had won in the past like Holland, Italy, the British Masters and a few others.

I must say that I’m a bit disappointed with the European Tour. When we moved to the US, my intention was always to combine both tours, American and European. Unfortunately, due to my poor performance, after having been knocked out of the top 50 of the OWGR, it was a difficult task, which is why I had to give up my privileges as a member of the European Tour this year for the first time since 2004. Having to play in a minimum of 13 tournaments without being qualified for the majors and WGCs was practically impossible for me. You can imagine my surprise when just a few weeks ago, Keith Pelley, the new Executive Director of the European Tour, announced the well-merited change in regulations, reducing the minimum amount of tournaments to just 5. Brilliant decision, but the timing couldn’t have been worse! If they would have announced this ahead of time, many other golfers, myself included, could have made the decision to play in the European Tour Qualifying School in attempts to get a spot in the rankings for the European Tour in 2016.

Now that the season is coming to an end, I would like to thank my sponsors and team for the support they’ve shown me this year in 2015. To Ralph Lauren and Srixon, for confiding in me throughout all these years of a very long and fruitful relationship. To my coaches, Randy Smith, José Carlos Gutiérrez and Stockton Golf, for not giving up and having tried up until the very last minute to make things work, always transmitting their positive vibes and helping me to trust in myself at all times. To my physical therapist, Marnus Marais, for having kept me in good shape (physically, because mentally I’m out of it) and free of injuries throughout this entire neverending season. To my caddies, Jeff Paul, for his help in the first half of the year, and especially to Brendan McCartan, for having trusted in me when everything was turned upside down and for having tried to help me despite the fact that the results never seemed to turn out well. I am eternally grateful to all of you. Lastly and most importantly, to my family, for having stood by me, supported me, cheered me up and a long line of etceteras, always with smiles on their faces during such a difficult year. I love you all.

Now it’s time to rest and to start to prepare for the 2016 season, which if everything goes fine will begin at the end of January when the Web.com Tour goes to South America; first to Panama and then to Colombia, countries I will be visiting for the first time. After, a stop in Louisiana, then back to South America where I’ll play in Sao Paulo and Cartagena. And without even having realized, we will be in mid-April already, how quickly time flies!

Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As I told you before, I hope this blog will be a source of good news for everyone in 2016! Best regards to all and thank you very much for reading.