Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi everyone! I'm writing to you from up in the air on my last flight of the week, final destination, Miami. Since I had a stroke of bad luck (no pun intended) and my seat is broken and won't recline, I've decided that since I'm not going to be able to sleep, I'll kill some time by writing my third blog entry.

It's been a fun, but exhausting couple of weeks, especially this last week in Malaysia where the heat and the humidity really took a toll. The truth is that the more than 30,000 kilometers by plane in just 6 days didn't help either, not to mention the 12 hour difference.

The first week in Orlando was very entertaining. Just three and a half hours by car, we decided that this would be the first family trip of the year, in-laws included, who took advantage of the occasion to come visit. We rented a house close to the theme park and while I played in the tournament, the kids went with their grandparents to Disney World. Amazing plan, especially for me, because I got to skip over the horrendous lines part at that human rat trap, also known as the Magic Kingdom.

After making third place last year, expectations were high. Bay Hill is one of my favorite courses of the PGA Tour: not too long, not too much rough with fast, shifting greens that obligate you to fine-tune your shots to and around the greens. After an incredible opening on Thursday with a 66, the rest of the week turned into an uphill battle, mainly because of my inconsistent putting. In the end, 35th place left something to be desired, especially after the strong start of the tournament.

The week in Malaysia was also a lot of fun, except for the stifling heat and humidity, impossible for me to get used to no matter how many countries I visit with this type of weather. They say that summer in Miami is similar, so I better start getting used to it!

I was with my coach, Jose Carlos Gutierrez, this week to take advantage of getting a few pointers before the Masters. Nobody like him to whip me into shape, which is why he's been helping adjust my swing for more than 10 years now. Normally, I don't even have to hit 5 balls before he knows exactly what needs tuning. He's awesome. Unfortunately, due to the unbearable heat and various previous commitments and tournament-related events, we couldn't spend as much time practicing as we would have liked, but the time we did spend was quality.

After coming out 0-5 on the first day, it seemed like a given that we would win, but if there's one thing this sport teaches you, it's not to get too comfortable and to always expect the best from your rival, just as what happened here. The Old World destroyed us in the next two rounds (3-2 in foursomes and 7-3 in individuals), until the final result of a tie came as a major relief. There was one point on Saturday that as much as I studied the leaderboard, nothing added up!

For some strange reason, when Miguel announced the pairings on Friday afternoon, I thought that coming out number 9 could mean a decisive position. Let me tell you, I've never been so nervous playing golf in my life: not in playoffs, not in majors, not alongside Seve, not with Tiger - nothing compared. Until the14th, everything was under control, but when I saw the whole team appear at once, my head started spinning: thinking that the fate of 10 golfers and 10 caddies depended on me. That there was lots of money at stake. That a lot of people were watching on TV. That McGinley was observing me from behind a tree… All kinds of thoughts that only made me even more nervous than I already was. I thought it was impossible to be more nervous! Tanihara-san sinking putts from all over the place didn’t help either. And the heat was on (literally and figuratively).

Now seriously: I think that despite everything, and having been the first time I was in that kind of situation, I held up pretty well. I'm happy with my game, and I think my teammates are as well: they still talk to me and I haven't received any threats yet by any caddies, so I must be doing alright!

Another positive point of the week was being able to hang out with Paul McGinley, the next European Ryder Cup captain. He wanted to take advantage of meeting with all aspiring players to be on his team in Gleneagles. After spending time with him, telling me about the ideas he has and how he is preparing everything, there's no doubt in my mind that he's going to be a fantastic captain. I don't know if he'll be as passionate as Seve, or give such motivating talks as Oli, but I think he is calculating and pays attention to detail, and won't leave anything up to chance. And he'll be surrounded by highly qualified people, like this week, where he had scouts in every game taking notes and writing down stats. Tom Watson, good luck, you're going to have a tough competitor with McGinley!

Another thing I loved was seeing the Malaysian government back the EurAsia Cup. The Queen and the Prime Minister of the country, both big golf fans, made it a priority to come to the course throughout the week to show their support for the tournament, to which they've signed off on for two more editions. What a great start for the EurAsia Cup that will be, without a doubt, one of the most anticipated future events of the next two years.

Only one 'but' during these two weeks. They coincided with the Sony Open Tennis, which is held in Crandon Park, just 5 minutes away from home by bike, and I missed it!! Two weeks of tennis and I wasn't even able to see one set, a real shame considering how much I love tennis. The only thing that makes me feel better is that Nadal plays in the final at the same time the plane lands, so I'm going to try to make it for the last set. Everything depends on how long the lines are in customs, which are usually huge in Miami in general.

And now it’s time to rest and recover because the first major of the year is just around the corner.

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