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February 20, 2012

Gonzalo Fernandez Castano


SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Gonzalo, thank you as always for coming in and joining us.テつ Welcome to the Accenture Match Play Championship.テつ Your debut in the event.テつ Just gives us your thoughts on that and the frustrating opponent you may have heard of at some point in your career.
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, it's good to be here.テつ It's my first time playing the match play.テつ It's not my first time in Tucson.テつ I played the Chrysler Classic in 2006.テつ It's a place I like very much.テつ Has nothing to do with Spain, but it's a fun place to be.テつ I'm looking forward to tournament and especially to the Wednesday pairing.テつ I think it's great to be playing against Tiger.テつ All the top 64 players in the world, they're all good, and you can get beat by any of them.テつ But playing against one of the best players in history, it's a good experience, and of course I think I have nothing to lose.テつ So I just need to go out there and try my best.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ What did you think when you saw the draw?テつ Were you pleased that you were going to be that high profile or was it a bit of the other feeling?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, I don't know.テつ It's a funny feeling because being 47 or 48th in the World Rankings at the moment, you don't expect to be paired against Tiger Woods.テつ But those things happen.テつ He's probably not at his best.テつ And you have to look at it that way.テつ Maybe it's a good chance to play good.テつ And maybe I can beat him.テつ That would be a great‑‑ good feeling.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Your form has improved in the tournaments you've played in.テつ Do you feel it's coming together?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, I had a good start of the season.テつ I've never played great on the middle of the swing.テつ And I think I played consistent and solid in the beginning of the year.テつ My short game wasn't very accurate, which is normally one of the strongest parts of my game.テつ But it wasn't quite there on the first three tournaments of the year, but still it wasn't too bad.
I'm quite confident with my game, as I said, hopefully we can have a good tournament.テつ Of course, to have a good tournament I need to first of all play the best golf of my life on Wednesday.テつ But, yeah, I was definitely looking forward to this tournament.

Q.テつ Gonzalo, what do you remember about playing in that Chrysler Classic all those years ago?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, it was my first‑‑ the first experience on the PGA TOUR.テつ It was the first tournament I've ever played on the PGA TOUR.テつ I played on a sponsor invite.テつ I was paired with Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan the first couple of rounds.テつ I didn't play too bad but I missed the cut by one.テつ I remember I bogeyed the last to miss by one.テつ But it was a good experience.テつ As I said, I enjoyed Tucson.テつ I remember the ball flight goes a long way here because of the heat and the altitude, and hopefully I'll keep that in mind for this week.

Q.テつ So when you first found out you were facing Tiger, was it a feeling of, oh, no, or was it a feeling of, you know, this could be a good opportunity; your initial response?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I think it was a feeling of, oh, yes.テつ It was‑‑ I think it's a great opportunity.テつ And you have to look at it that way.テつ That's probably the best way to look at it.テつ If you tee it up on Wednesday thinking, oh, no, I'm playing against Tiger, that's not the way to start a tournament.
So I think‑‑ as I said before, I'm the underdog, I have nothing to lose.テつ And at the same time I don't think he's at his best.テつ So it's a good opportunity.テつ If I play well I can beat him.テつ I know I need to play good.テつ He's a great match play player.テつ He's won this tournament three times.テつ He has a very good match play record, especially in his amateur days, not so good on the Ryder Cup.テつ I think he's beatable.テつ Of course I need to play good.テつ That's all I can think about and that's all I'm going to try on Wednesday, just try playing my game and hope that he doesn't play his best.

Q.テつ Gonzalo, how much is the match play event on your mind, that one later in the year in Chicago?テつ And do you think about ‑‑ obviously the Ryder Cup ‑‑ and do you think about what a good week this week could do for your qualifying?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I think I'm half of the way.テつ I don't probably‑‑ I've done half of the job so far.テつ I need to do the other half.テつ I think I need to play well.テつ It could be this week or it could be a couple of weeks in Doral.テつ You never know.テつ What I know is that I need to play good golf to get into that team.テつ I don't think I'll be‑‑ even though I'm a Spaniard, I don't think I'll be on the options on the wild card list.テつ So I just need to qualify on my own merits.テつ And as I said I just need to play good golf from here to the Johnie Walker Classic in Gleneagles.

Q.テつ As a follow‑up, not quite related, but you said that you didn't think Tiger Woods was probably playing his best at the moment.テつ Where do you see him in his game at the moment with regard to maybe passing Jack Nicklaus?テつ As well, on that topic, too, what's your take on that?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I think Tiger will win Majors again.テつ I think he's‑‑ I don't know if he'll get past Nicklaus's record.テつ How many left has he got?
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Four to equal and five to beat him.
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I don't know.テつ What I'm sure about is he's not going to be as dominant as what he used to be.テつ I think there's a lot of young guys, likes of Rory McIlroy, Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, guys that they've beaten him.テつ They know what the feeling of beating Tiger is.テつ They've won Majors or some of them have.テつ And I think that he might be No.テつ 1 player in the world again.テつ He might win Majors again.テつ But I don't think he'll be as dominant as he was, for example, earlier in 2000 or those times.テつ Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know.テつ Anything is possible with that guy, he's so good.テつ You never know.テつ Having said this, he'll probably win four Majors this year.

Q.テつ Would you just talk about‑‑ there's five players from Spain here this week.テつ Can you talk about the state of golf in Spain right now and the Spanish golfers?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I think it's quite impressive having five players within the top 65 players in the world.テつ It's also going to be five players for the moment in Augusta. テつI think there's a bunch of young players that they are doing well.テつ And they have a bright future ahead.テつ And that's probably because of all the hard work that the Spanish Federation, alongside with Severiano Ballesteros, they did on their days, and of course the Federation is still doing that.テつ But I know we have the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is 48 and still playing very competitive golf; Olazabal who is playing good again.テつ And then the young lads like Sergio and Quiros, I think is probably the future of the Spanish golf.テつ And I don't know, it's‑‑ it seems that people in Spain are getting used to having a lot of big names on the big tournaments.テつ But for a small country, only with 300 thousand golf players, just having five guys out here playing, it's quite impressive.
I think that people in Spain don't realize how good the Spanish golfers are.

Q.テつ Did you happen to see what Sergio did on Sunday?テつ What do you think of the State of his game?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, what Sergio did on Sunday was very impressive.テつ Best run of the day by three shots.テつ That's quite a golf round.テつ But I think I was very impressed with Sergio the end of last year, coming back from all that stretch without victories, I mean struggling with his game and all of a sudden winning back‑to‑back tournaments on the European Tour.テつ That was very impressive.
I think he's back.テつ He has motivation again.テつ You can see he's smiling on the course again.テつ He's enjoying himself.テつ And hopefully this is his year.
I think Spanish golf needs one major.テつ We haven't won a Major since 1998 or was it '99 when Olazabal ‑‑ '99‑‑ when he won in Augusta.テつ So I think it would be great for the Spanish golf, and especially to get‑‑ the problem in Spain is that we need to get the golf to be known‑‑ you don't get to see golf in the news or in the newspaper that often.テつ I think right now we are overshadowed by the likes of Rafael Nadal in tennis, and Pau Gasol in basketball and Alonso in Formula 1, we have a lot of good sportsmen and I think a Major would be great to get youngsters to have their eyes on a new idol as I did with Severiano or with Jose Maria.テつ We need that and to do that we need one Major.テつ Hopefully Sergio or Quiros or maybe myself, we could do that.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Or indeed have a winning Ryder Cup captain.テつ That might help.
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Yeah, I don't think of a better captain than Olazabal, that's for sure.テつ And what you've seen, what he's done in the Ryder Cup as a player.テつ And also being vice captain in the last couple of editions, the stories that you hear from the rest of the players are all the motivation and all the passion, he's always involved.テつ So‑‑ as I said before, I can't think of a better captain to lead the European squad and hopefully I can be part of that team.テつ It would be a dream come true.テつ Because playing the Ryder Cup would be one of my dreams.
But with Olazabal as the captain, as you know, he's a good friend of mine, and being part of that team would be something very, very special.

Q.テつ You wanted my question a little bit there.テつ How big of achievements of Sergio and Jose Maria have been a burden to the younger guys coming through.テつ Big shoes to fill, as it were, a lot of pressure on your shoulders.テつ You look at the Spanish sport and if you haven't won a Major, it's all a failure, and there isn't much of interest in anything else you guys do?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ It is.テつ You see Sergio Garcia, how close he's been so many times.テつ And when you read the newspapers in Spain it seems like a big failure, not winning a Major.テつ I think they don't realize how difficult it is to be in the position, not only being in the position of winning a Major.テつ And at the end of the day it's a matter of luck, that putt in Carnoustie at the 18th hole, I was watching on TV, and it was seen most of the way, and all of a sudden it lipped out and he loses a playoff and it's the end of the world.
But it isn't.テつ As you said, with Severiano and the standards were very, very high.テつ But I think we have the potential to win Majors.テつ I'm saying we, because I'm Spanish.テつ But I'm thinking of the likes of Sergio.テつ If I have to appoint somebody to be the next Spanish major winner, I would definitely go for Sergio, I think he has everything.テつ He's been there before.テつ He has experience.テつ He has the game.テつ And he will do it.テつ I'm sure he is going to do it.テつ It will be a similar case like Mickelson, it took a while to win the first one, but once he wins the first one I think he will win a few.

Q.テつ Getting back to Tiger, a lot of people say when you play Tiger, it's more than the golf.テつ It's the galleries, they're huge, there can be distractions.テつ How do you stay on your game and stay focused and what you have to do and not get distracted with all of that?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, I played with big galleries before, so I don't think that's going to be a problem.テつ I'm sure they will all be rooting for him.テつ That's a different story.テつ I've never been in that situation.テつ But you never know.テつ I just want to enjoy.テつ I've never played with Tiger before, not even on a stroke play event.テつ I just want to go out there.テつ For me it's a big privilege.テつ If I win, fantastic.テつ If I lose, well, I've lost to one of the best players of golf in history.
But as I said I know I need to play my best golf and hopefully he doesn't play his best.テつ That's the way it works.テつ Match play is like that.テつ Sometimes you shoot 67 and you lose.テつ Other day you shoot 74 and you win.
So hopefully it goes my way on Wednesday.テつ But as I said, I think you only‑‑ you need to take the positives of all this.テつ I was quite happy to see my pairing.テつ And I think I can‑‑ you can learn a lot from this experience.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Gonzalo, thanks, as always.テつ Good luck on Wednesday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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