Olympia’s Andres Gonzales hopes he has finally tamed the one club in his bag that seemingly misbehaves like an insubordinate pitbull.
In 2013, he lost all control of it, but eventually reined it in after he hired Austin Country Club professional Ann Marie Gildersleeve.
But last season, his driving went awry again. He suffered through a four-month stretch where he missed seven consecutive cuts, and his best finish was a tie for 64th at the Shell Houston Open.
And in his first seven tournaments of 2016, he hit more than half the fairways once — at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“The drives went both ways,” Gonzales said. “It makes it very hard to play golf.”
Needless to say, he desperately needed answers.
Luckily a solution lurked in his backyard. Last March, Gonzales parted ways with Gildersleeve and started working with Chris Griffin, the former assistant professional at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.
“We worked hard on his setup, and got the club in a better position,” Griffin said. “We softened the angle, and he started hitting it nice right away.”
The two clicked immediately, and Gonzales slowly started to emerge from his slump.
“Chris is the first teacher in my entire life that I have not gone on the course and thought about my golf swing,” Gonzales said. “I have just gone out and played golf.”
In the middle of last summer, the Capital High School graduate started to see big gains. He tied for 12th at the Quicken Loans National in June. Three weeks later, he tied for fourth at the Barbasol Championship. And in August, he tied for 17th at the Travelers Championship.
Because of the early-season slide, Gonzales finished outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup points standings, and had to go to the Web.com Tour playoffs to try to retain his PGA Tour card for 2017.
He did not take long to finish that off, losing in a sudden-death playoff to Bryson DeChambeau at the DAP Championship, the first Web.com playoff event.
“I am able to control the golf ball, and eliminate (one side of) the course,” Gonzales said. “I am really confident, and have been the past eight months.”
The Andres Gonzales file
High school/college: Capital/UNLV.
Recap of 2016 season: Made 12 of 28 cuts, with one top-10 finish. Earned $579,667. Best finish was a tie for fourth at the Barbasol Championship.
Caddie: Eric Larson.
Instructor: Chris Griffin.
In the bag: Callaway Big Bertha Fusion driver, Callaway XR 16 4-wood, Callaway Apex hybrids (20 degrees), Callaway Apex MB irons, Callaway Mack Daddy 2 wedges (47, 52 and 60 degrees), Odyssey White Hot putter, Titleist Pro V1x golf ball.