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May 8, 2014

Gonzalo Fernandez Castano


DOUG MILNE:テつ Gonzalo, congratulations, 5‑under 67, first round of THE PLAYERS Championship.テつ A few comments on your opening round today.
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, very happy with my start of the tournament.テつ Of course I think anything under par is always a good round here at the TPC Sawgrass.テつ Very happy with the way I hit the ball, especially considering how bad I was hitting it on the practice rounds and after missing the cut last week in Charlotte.テつ I made a last‑minute change yesterday with my driver late afternoon.テつ I just switched shafts, and it paid off.テつ I think I drove the ball beautifully today, and probably that's key on this course.テつ If you want to be able to attack those flags, you need to be in the fairway, and that's exactly what I haven't been doing lately, but today everything went good.

Q.テつ I know you started the year with a couple struggles of not playing as well as you would have liked.テつ What wasn't working and what was working today?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I don't know what was going through my mind at the time.テつ I mean, I could hardly break 80 on the first couple of tournaments of the year.テつ I don't know, I guess it took me a while to get used to‑‑ not only to the PGA TOUR, but getting settled in Miami.テつ We moved there just before Christmas, and it always takes a while to adapt and getting everything organized.テつ I think that that's already done; we are over with that, and I have no excuses now, so I'd better start breaking 80 on a regular basis.

Q.テつ What was the thought process behind the move, and what went into all that?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I always thought that if you wanted‑‑ I mean, having a family as I have, being married with children, it was always easier if you wanted to play on the PGA TOUR getting a base here.テつ Last year when we played Doral I went to Key Biscayne for the first time and just fell in love with the place, and I said to my wife, well, if we ever get to play on the PGA TOUR, this is going to be the place, and she was happy.テつ She always enjoyed the American lifestyle, and that's exactly what we did.テつ When I secured my card last year on the Money List as a temporary member, we decided it was now or never.
Some people asked me being a Ryder Cup year if it was the smart thing to do, playing more over here instead of on the European Tour.テつ But I've always believed this is the biggest stage in golf, and I've always dreamt about playing here, and it would have been stupid not to do it.
I'm glad I had the support of my family, and I think we are really enjoying our new life here in Florida.

Q.テつ How long before you and Carlos get Sergio to move to Miami?テつ You guys are both at the top of the leaderboard; how do you explain that?テつ Is there anything about this course that is like what you play back home?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, answering your first question, that would be nice to see Sergio in Key Biscayne.テつ That would be quite something.
And second, I would say‑‑ I don't know, I've always enjoyed this course.テつ Even last year where I missed the cut, I remember I made an 8 on 13 on my first round and then I had a double and a triple somewhere else and I missed the cut by one, so I've always been able to make a lot of birdies around this course.テつ Unfortunately I've always made a lot of mistakes.
Today I kept the card clear of doubles and triples, and that bogey on the last was a little disappointing.テつ I tried to be aggressive, and finishing with a 6 is not what you want, but you have to take the positives, and there's been a lot today.

Q.テつ Can you provide some more details on the switch of shaft?テつ What did you find that was not to your liking, and what did you switch to?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, don't ask me about the aspects on the shaft because I don't know.テつ I mean, I'm not into that.テつ I know it's an 01 shaft and it's blue.テつ That's all I can tell you.テつ I was using a different shaft the last few weeks, and I could see I was hitting it lovely on the range but then all of a sudden on the course all the balls were kind of leaking to the right.
We put that shaft on my 3‑wood earlier in the week, and I liked it, so we said, why not try it on the driver, and I did that yesterday around 4:00 in the afternoon, and after that I had to go out on the course and hit a couple of shots just because‑‑ as for me, it's never the same.テつ I swing a completely different way on the range than I do on the course, so as soon as I tried it on the range and I saw it was working, I had to go and play 1 and 2, hit a few drivers, to see if it was real, and it worked.テつ I have to say, I hit the driver lovely today, and hopefully we can keep it going the rest of the week.

Q.テつ If you hit it differently on the range than you do on the course, what are you getting out of your range sessions?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I don't know, that's why I keep them short.テつ I keep them very short.テつ It's just a warm‑up thing, and I try to loosen up a bit and just go out there, and I've always believed that golf is like playing cards; they will give you a hand of five, and then you have to play with that.テつ Every day is different, and that's the way I see this game.

Q.テつ Is this your second year here you said?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ It's my first full year.

Q.テつ At the tournament?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Yes, it's my second time playing THE PLAYERS.

Q.テつ What did you learn about the course this year that you didn't know last year?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, I think always playing a course with a tournament setup for a second time, the more you play, the more experience you have.テつ I think that I'm at a bit of a disadvantage with the rest of the guys out here.テつ They know most of the courses.テつ They know where to stay.テつ They know where to go and eat.テつ For me everything is new this year.テつ I'm glad at least this course, I had a bit of knowledge from last year, and it paid off today.

Q.テつ To go back to your card analogy, Sergio seems a lot happier just playing the cards that he's dealt out here on the course.テつ Do you sense that, and do you have an explanation for why he just seems a little happier out here now?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, I think he's happy overall.テつ I think he has a wonderful girlfriend, and he loves what he does again because not long ago he was a bit grumpy on the course and he never seemed to enjoy what he was doing.テつ I remember I had a talk with him in Munich not that long ago, and I said, Sergio, you do not have to do this if you don't enjoy it.テつ You know what I mean?テつ You're a millionaire; you have a fantastic family, they're all healthy, they love you, and don't have to play golf if you don't have fun.テつ Take a rest and come back when you enjoy it again, because I know Sergio for a long time.テつ We've played a lot of junior golf together.テつ We're the same age, so we've known each other since we were 10 years old, and I know how good he is, how talented he is, and he's capable of anything.
I think he's going to win majors, even though he doesn't believe he will.テつ That's going to happen sooner than later.テつ But I think now everything has clicked again, and it's great to see him with a smile and enjoying life again.

Q.テつ Do you think he now is starting to believe he can win majors?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I think so.テつ I think so.テつ I think he has‑‑ I think he believes he can.テつ It's just‑‑ maybe it's a way of taking pressure out of him just saying that he can win.テつ I think deep inside he knows he can.テつ I think he wants one, and I think he will get it.テつ I think he's too talented not to do it.テつ I think one day all of a sudden he's going to find himself six shots clear with nine to go, and that's going to be the one.テつ It was the same for Mickelson at the beginning; it took him a while to win his first, and then when he did that, it's been nonstop.テつ Hopefully it will be the same for him.

Q.テつ When you heard Sergio make those comments about I don't have it in me to win a major, what was your reaction to that?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, it was pain and simple.テつ If you don't have it, what are you doing here.テつ I remember that was two years ago at the Masters, and I mean, if he doesn't have it, 80 percent of the field, we should just go home and do something else, because he's got everything.テつ He's got every shot in the bag.テつ As I said, it will happen, I believe.

Q.テつ As a close friend of his, did you feel compelled to speak to him after that at all?テつ Did you speak after that two years ago?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ You know what, we do speak every now and then, and he knows I'm always very supportive with him.テつ I know how good he is.テつ I've been playing, as I said, since we were 10 years old.テつ He used to beat us by 10 shots every week.テつ I've seen him doing things that I haven't seen anybody else, probably the only one Tiger‑‑ he's phenomenal, and as I said, the thing is he seems to be enjoying life again with his football and his tennis and his girlfriend, so everything is clicking again, and as I said, I think hopefully this is the year, 2014.

Q.テつ He obviously has a lot more experience at playing this course than you do, and obviously he's won here.テつ Did you pick his brain at all in terms of how to play TPC Sawgrass?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ No, not really.テつ Believe it or not, we haven't spent much time together this week.テつ We played‑‑ I flew here on Tuesday, he flew in on Monday.テつ I actually haven't seen him all week.テつ I don't know, I mean, it's quite simple how you have to play this course.テつ You have to hit fairways, you have to hit greens, and you're going to get some bad breaks on this course, and I think patience is key out there.テつ This is one of those courses that even some good shots, they are not going to get rewarded, and you just have to hang in there and hope for the birdies to come.テつ I think it's kind of a short course, and you can get some good birdie streaks.テつ I don't know, I think patience is key.

Q.テつ How would you compare the course conditions from last year to this year?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ I think the course is getting there.テつ First couple of days, the practice rounds, it was playing a little soft.テつ But I was surprised how good the greens were rolling this morning.テつ The ball was rolling really nicely, even on those funky surfaces like 11, 12 and 4.テつ The ball was rolling not too bad, and I think they are getting firmer, as well.テつ I think by the end of the week, it's going to be a pretty good test.テつ I think the greens are going to get harder and faster.テつ I'm sure they will have the course where they want it on Sunday.

Q.テつ What's been the biggest adjustment for you as a rookie out here, and what have been some of the things you've really enjoyed about living here in the U.S.?
GONZALO FERNANDEZ‑CASTANO:テつ Well, I don't know.テつ It's been a massive change for me.テつ I've always lived‑‑ I was born in Madrid.テつ I've always lived there.テつ Madrid is a big city.テつ I've always lived downtown in an apartment, and all of a sudden now I'm living on an island in Florida in a big house with a nice pool in the backyard, and the beach is not far away.テつ We can walk the kids to school.テつ It's been a good‑‑ it's been a change for good I have to say.テつ We do miss our family quite a lot, but I see my children and my wife, they are so happy that that makes me happy even though I'm not playing my best.テつ Not even close to that.
What I find more difficult, as I said, is for me every week is kind of a new week.テつ It's like a new course, a course that I don't know, hotels that I haven't ever been to.テつ Everything is kind of new, but hopefully I can get through this first year, and it will only get better.テつ But I have to say I'm really enjoying my experience on the PGA TOUR.テつ It's always been a dream of mine playing here, and I'm just doing it.テつ If it works, great, and if not, well, we can always go back with no regrets.

Q.テつ Are you renting or have you bought in Key Biscayne?
DOUG MILNE:テつ Congratulations.テつ Thanks for your time.

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