Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño

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Hi everyone.  I'm writing from up in the air on my way to Spain, where the European Tour Qualifying School Final will be held.

In 2004, I played for my first and only time in the San Roque School, in Cadiz, and I remember it as if it were yesterday. It’s a very special week, not only because of everything that's at stake, which is a lot,  but also because it's six days of competition, which us professionals aren't used to.  I still remember when, in 2004, after four rounds, I looked at the leaderboard (within the objective at that time of top 30) and I thought: ‘I already gave it everything I've got and there are still two days left… two days!! The two most important days of golf of my career!!’

And like I was telling you, it's a very different week from the rest, tension is high and nerves are through the roof, a time when patience should be your biggest ally. A lot can happen in 108 holes, and you know there will be all kinds of things happening: ups and downs, where the key is to keep calm and to believe in yourself and in your game. 

That's why I'm glad that my friend and colleague, Álvaro Quirós, will be there to see it through with me, who will be my caddie this week. I think going with such a high-caliber golfer as Álvaro by my side will help me a lot,  not only for his knowledge and experience on the course,  but also because taking a friend with me will help ease my mind and keep it clear for the long week to come, which starts tomorrow with the practice rounds. I only hope we finish the week how we started… as friends! 

I frequently get asked if this means the end to my American adventure. Not even close!  My idea for next year is to mainly compete in the Web.com Tour in order to earn back the rights to play in the US for the 2018-2019 season.  If things go well and I secure the card soon, I would like to be able to play in Europe in the summer and the fall. If I get the European card this week, it would also allow me to play in the tournaments I’ve won in the past in the European Tour which I currently do not have access to (the rules changed this year and the tournament winners cannot play in the tournaments they’ve won in the past unless they’ve qualified for a category in the European Tour). So my idea is to combine both, but always prioritizing the Web.com Tour. There’s no doubt that I miss playing in the European Tour, where most of my friends are, but it’s also true that our new life is in the US and that’s where I want to compete, for practical and economical reasons. 

In the technical aspect, I want you all to know that I’ve gone back to working with Mariano Bartolomé, who joined my technical team this past June, together with José Carlos Gutiérrez. 

I’m happy with Mariano being back, whom I admire greatly as a professional and whom we consider a part of the family here at home. We’ve already worked together in the past and got great results, so we’re trying to get those good vibes back from 2012 and 2013, the last two seasons in which I played my best golf.

The changes in swing consist of turning my upper body a little more on my back swing, and avoiding my head from coming down, which keeps me from from coming forward on the downward part. These past years, my body has started to move worse in front of the ball, especially on the back swing, making the club slip toward the inside on the downswing, and I miss a lot of shots to the left, something I wasn’t used to, which caused a lot of uncertainty on the course. And there’s nothing worse for a golfer than having both misses (left and right!).

And that swing was a direct reflection of my results this year, some of the worst I can remember. I missed a lot of cuts (12 of the 22 tournaments I played) and there were no noteworthy scores or performances, the 13th place in the Valero Texas Open being my best results of the year. Despite having been my best season on the green, with incredibly good putting stats, my long game off the tee and with the irons was never on point, reflected in the results. 

In June, I basically assumed the fact that I had lost the possibility to hold onto the card and we began the work on the swing with the goal of reaching the Web.com Tour Finals in top shape in attempts to earn the PGA Tour card back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible, I’ll be in the second division of American golf once again, which I’m ready for and which I’ll take on as the ultimate challenge, like I’ve done before in 2016 and which I hope to repeat next year. 

On a personal note, it’s been a fantastic year with the birth of our fourth son, Mateo, who was born at the end of August. A few days after being born, we had to take off quickly because of Hurricane Irma, what an experience that was! Something different to those of us who are new to these tropical climates, and I don’t recommend it to anyone. I will never forget the sensation of leaving my home and not knowing what I would come back to, and the roads completely wiped out going North and alarmingly empty in the opposite direction, where you only saw military convoys or trucks from electric companies. Everything seemed as though it were straight out of a movie, but with a happy ending for us, thank God. I hope that my golf seems like it came straight out of a movie these coming months, but not a horror movie, which is what it’s been up until now!

Thanks for reading, and I promise not to take so long in updating with the next post. Cheers everyone!