Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi Everyone. I’m writing on my way to Brazil where I’ll begin a series of five weeks in a row of competition. The first two weeks will be in theWeb.com Tour in Sao Paolo and Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), then back to Europe for the Open de España in Valderrama and then back again to the Web.com where I’ll play in León (Mexico) and Evansville, IN (US). Five weeks ahead of hours filled with airports and planes, but which I am truly excited about.

It’s been a very different start of the year than what I’ve been used to, I had never competed in so few tournaments before: we’re almost in April and I’ve only played in two tournaments this year. The start of the Web.com Tour calendar is a bit slow; up until now there have only been three tournaments and in one of them, the Louisiana Open, I didn’t make it in due to my status. That together with the fact that I did not receive any of the sponsor exemptions I requested (LA Open, Honda Classic, Puerto Rico Open and Louisiana Open), and I didn’t make it through on the three Monday Qualifiers that I played in (Honda Classic, Louisiana Open and Puerto Rico Open), means that I’m a bit rusty right now as far as competing goes.  

The good thing about these months I’ve had off is that I’ve been able to practice a lot and to make changes which I consider to be significant and necessary in order to go into this new season with a certain amount of confidence and assurance. Jose Carlos Gutiérrez was with me in Miami in February and we made a few tweaks to the swing that needed to be improved and which were directly affecting certain aspects of my game that have been a bit weak since some time ago: wedges, “punches” and short game. Afterwards I was in Dallas for a few days with Randy Smith reinforcing the changes and getting new ideas. This, together with the fact that I’m healthy, has allowed me to have long, quality practices. The reason I’m in good physical shape is because of Michael Garrett, British physical therapist in Florida, who has helped me out a lot with my back and hip problems, since we started working together at the end of January. It’s like we say in Spain, the magic touch! And anyway there’s nothing like spending time at home with Alicia and the kids to recharge my batteries and to come back strong for the “second start” of the 2016 season.

I’ve always been a player whose rhythm is marked by competition. There are players who are able to go weeks without competing and they reach that competitive point by practicing at home. Adam Scott is the perfect example. That has always been difficult for me. I’ve rarely been able to get good results after a long period away from competition. I’ve always needed a few pre-tournaments to get my rhythm down, independently from how much I have been practicing. That’s why I’ve been waiting anxiously for this time and to start competing on a more consistent basis.

And practicing and competing don’t have anything to do with each other. I read once in the famous book by Hank Haney, “The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods”, something that was really interesting to me: when you make a technical change in the swing, the process is much longer than a golfer may think. The first step, which is logical, is to dominate that change on the driving range at your club, and then to be able to achieve that on the practice rounds at your club. The next step would be to be able to make it work on the driving range during the practice days at a tournament and then in the practice rounds at the tournament. Finally, the change is solidified when you are able to do it on the driving range the day of the tournament and lastly, when you can do it throughout the rounds in the tournament.

Now I’m at the point which is so difficult for so many professional golfers. Hitting the ball really well on the driving range and in the practice rounds, yet still finding it difficult to bring those changes out in the competition rounds. I’m on that last and final step that Haney spoke about and it’s been difficult for me. It’s also true that I’ve haven’t had many opportunities to try it out. That’s why I think competing more regularly again will help me break that barrier.
 
In order to achieve this, I’ve started working on the mental aspect of the game. I’ve always considered my mind on the course to be one of my competitive advantages with regards to other golfers. Unfortunately it hasn’t been that way the past two years, which is why I decided it was time to start working on that fundamental part of the game. Fifteenth club in the bag, which needs to be worked on just the same as the drive or putt. It isn’t an easy road ahead and the benefits won’t be evident immediately but I’m really excited about this new project, I firmly believe that I’m in the midst of recovery and that all the hard work and effort that I’m putting into it will end up yielding great results in the medium to long run.
 
I will keep you informed on all my activity. Meanwhile wish me luck! Regards to all and I hope to see you in Valderrama at the Open de España in a few weeks. Don’t miss it!