When Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño was named the European Tour's Golfer of the Month for October after winning his seventh title in the BMW Masters, it gave him time to reflect.
"Who could have imagined, playing the Qualifying School back in 2004, that 10 years later I would have achieved seven victories. It's amazing how time goes by. In 2004, you are at the School thinking where your life will end up - and in 2013, you find yourself with seven titles," he said.
Fernandez-Castano, or "Gonzo" as he is known, has indeed enjoyed one of those fairytale careers. He remains one of the most respected and liked players on the European Tour. He is a close friend of Sergio Garcia, with the two having played amateur golf and represented Spain together. He is considered somewhat of an understudy to José Maria Olazábal. And he serves as a mentor for Alvaro Quiros. In turn, Quiros is godfather to his youngest child.
The Spaniard turned professional in 2004, finished eighth at the European Tour's Qualifying School, won the KLM Dutch Open in his rookie season on tour in 2005 and has enjoyed a solid career.
Armed with a keen business intellect and a business degree, Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño started his own company called GCM Golf, and together with Miguel Angel Jimenez they promoted tournaments in Spain. Strangely, Fernandez-Castano believed his future lay in business and wasn't convinced he was good enough to make it asa professional.
In 2011, Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño suffered a back injury that sidelined him for six months of the season. But his irrepressible nature saw him return to win the Barclays Singapore Open in November that year.
"I look back at 2011, when I had problems with my back, and I can hardly believe how dark a time it was. I was full of doubts, and getting back to being competitive again was very tough. But since then, I've won three times. Now I am so happy!"
But perhaps the finest moment of his career was the phone call he received following his first victory in the KLM Dutch Open. "Believe it or not, just like Seve, our first wins came at the KLM Dutch Open. I remember the following day after the victory I got a phone call at 7:30 in the morning, from a number I did not recognize, so I picked it up and it was Seve. He said, 'Gonzo, I am very proud of you'."
He paid a fitting tribute to the great man when he played a key role in Continental Europe's victory in the Seve Trophy this year, earning three points out of five as they beat Great Britain and Ireland 15-13.
The gentleman from Madrid is bound to be a favourite when he makes his Nedbank Golf Challenge debut.