In Florida I feel close to home
September 13, 2020
By Jorge Fernández Valdés, Special to PGATOURLA.COM
- September 13, 2020
- Having a great time with my friends Diego Velásquez, Rafa Guerrero and Leandro Marelli.
Editor's Note: The LOCALiQ Series was idle last week and will again take off this coming week. Along with his compatriots Tommy Cocha, Leandro Marelli, Andrés Gallegos and Matías Lezcano, Argentine Jorge Fernández Valdés talks about what he has been doing during the break and what’s planned prior to the Jacksonville Championship as the Series moves to Florida.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida—Like I do every Sunday, I’m here to tell you a little about what happened on our LOCALiQ Series’ Argentine adventure. It’s been a week since we played the fourth tournament, The Invitational at Auburn University Club, and to be honest, I have already started to feel a little tired.
We will take these two weeks off before playing the Jacksonville Championship at Hidden Hills Golf Club, allowing us to rest a bit, go out to eat with friends and have a little fun. Why not? Everything can’t be related to golf. If I have learned something over the years, it is that not everything in this job can be golf courses, clubs and rounds. Part of the success is also clearing the mind and spending time on things not related to sports.
Although I do not want you to think we have stopped training. Every day we play practice rounds on different golf courses to keep our games sharp and sometimes we play competitively. For example, once we finished playing the tournament in Auburn, we traveled directly to Chicago to play the Monday qualifier for the Evans Scholars Invitational, a Korn Ferry Tour tournament.
Those who follow golf closely will know that Monday qualifiers are brutal, and this, of course, was no exception. Along with Leandro Marelli, we missed qualifying and were out of the field by one stroke. It left me a bid disappointed because I was close. But when things don’t happen the way I want, I have to accept them and move on. All of us were very happy to know our Colombian friend Santiago Gómez did earn a spot in the field.
Without being able to play that tournament, we returned to Florida with the aim of adapting to what the LOCALiQ Series events will be in this part of the United States. The next three tournaments are all in the Sunshine State.
Without a doubt, Florida is a state that makes you feel close to home. There are a lot of Latin Americans living in this part of the country, and on every corner you meet someone who speaks Spanish. You can see that the Latin flavor is present, and that raises the nostalgia of being away from your country.
On Tuesday, we arrived in Orlando with Marelli, Puma Domínguez and Andres Gallegos. That day we decided to stay at the home of Hernán Rey, one of the most recognized coaches in Argentina, a former professional player and today an ESPN commentator in Latin America. Whenever we come to the United States, we try to visit him, and he always receives us in an incredible way.
The next day, we drove here, where we will be for a few days. Our “operations center” is the home of Venezuelan Rafa Guerrero. We have known each other for years because we played many events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Rafa is currently an alternate for subsequent LOCALiQ Series tournaments, and I sincerely hope he can gain a spot in those fields. He really wants to compete.
On Friday morning, right next door to Miami International Airport, we played at Melreese Country Club, where we played the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Tour Championship for two seasons. We had the opportunity to spend time with Latin American friends, so it was a fun experience. To top it off with a flourish, we had lunch with another great friend, Colombia’s Diego Velásquez.Playing some golf with Ricardo Celia, two-time PGA TOUR Latinoamérica winner.
Diego, who also had the opportunity to play on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica—in fact, he won the 2015 Colombian Open—lives in Miami with his wife, and they invited us to their home. Diego’s father-in-law is the director of golf at Termas de Río Hondo, and we are also very good friends with him. As always, the anecdotes of what we have experienced all these years in Latin America were not lacking. What a good time we had!
Next week we plan to play a Minor League Golf Tour event at the Rees Jones Golf Course at The Breakers West. The second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament is played there, so it will be a good test before resuming the LOCALiQ Series calendar in Jacksonville.
Half of the LOCALiQ Series events have passed, and as I have told you the competition has been strong. You have to make a lot of birdies to stay in contention, and I think that on a personal level, things have gone well for me. I feel like I have yet to close the tournaments well to give me the opportunity to fight for a title. Let’s see if I can change that.
Time is moving fast. It’s hard to believe that we’re in Florida, with only three regular tournaments left and the LOCALiQ Series Championship at Atlantis Bahamas getting closer and closer.