Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño will be returning to Shanghai to defend his BMW Masters title at the Lake Malaren Golf Club this weekend. The popular Spaniard has experienced great success in BMW events around the world and here he talks about his love-affair with China, why he enjoys BMW events so much, and a marriage proposal like no other.
How much are you looking forward to defending your BMW Masters title in Shanghai?
“I can’t wait to get back to China. I love it! I’ve had two BMW victories in Shanghai and have twice finished runner-up at the China Open. I don’t know why, but for some reason I play well there. On top of that, to win the first ever Race to Dubai Final Series event (the 2013 BMW Masters) with such a strong field and in the windy conditions we had in the first few rounds makes me very proud. It’s probably my biggest golfing achievement.”
What is your fondest memory of last year’s victory?
“Chipping in at the 17th in the final round. It was a very tricky downhill shot. At the time I only had a two-shot lead so I desperately needed to get it up and down from there to get a nice cushion going into the last hole. I changed clubs at the last second and when I saw the ball disappearing into the hole I felt so relieved. At the time, I didn’t know all the drama that was about to unfold at the 18th, where I almost threw away my three-shot margin. Thankfully, I came through.”
Of your seven victories on the European Tour, three have come in BMW events. What is it that helps them to bring out the best in you?
“BMW know how to put together a great event. Every time you play a tournament sponsored by BMW you expect nothing but the best: best courses, best hotels, best service, best food. You just have to take care of your game, BMW takes care of everything else.”
When you won the BMW Asian Open in 2006, you were so happy that you announced in the winner’s press conference that you would go home and propose to your girlfriend, Alicia, telling the world before you asked her. What was her reaction?
“I don’t know. I wasn’t there when she opened the newspaper the following morning! The exact moment I told the media about my idea of getting married I realised she was probably going to find out before I actually got back to Madrid and proposed properly. Luckily enough, she said ‘Yes’! That’s probably one of the weirdest marriage proposals ever.”
What do you like most about playing in China?
“I’ve been going to China for more than 10 years now and I have seen the country and its people changing so much in such a short time. It’s amazing to see how fast things grow in China, especially the golf scene. There are more courses being built, more good players being discovered, larger crowds attending the tournaments every year. This is just the beginning of something special.”
Do you envisage the day when there will be a major champion from China? If so, how long will we have to wait?
“There is a lot of potential and it will definitely happen sooner rather than later. Hopefully, I’ll be around to witness it because it will be great for the golfing world.”