Las Vegas, Nevada (February 25, 2011)–When and if Andres Gonzales wins a PGA Tour event, the circuit will have its newest star. We don't base this as 100% fact, but we can't think of another PGA Tour player who sports a fu manchu like former UNLV golfer Andres Gonzales does. And his unique style, talent and Vegas flare will win plenty of fans, and it could all start this week because he has a share of the lead after the first round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico. —By Brian Hurlburt.
While his look will turn heads–those in Mexico believe he is Mexican and are speaking Spanish to him this week (he says he does "un poquito")–it will be his talent that earns the loyalty. Gonzales qualified for the PGA Tour with a 22nd-place finish at Q School in 2010. He has also earned his playing stripes with stints on several mini tours, claiming wins on at least four: Butch Harmon Vegas Tour, Canadian Tour, Gateway Tour, and A.G. Spanos Tour. Four wins on any professional tour is no fluke. While he missed his first two cuts on the PGA Tour in 2011, he rallied back from very disappointing first rounds of 77 with rounds of 68 in both events he played prior to Mexico. Again, showing talent and determination when others might have faded. "It would have been real easy for him to drop farther after those tough rounds, but he just keeps coming back," says Mike Davis, the teacher Andres works with in Las Vegas.
"I hit a lot of fairways today," said Gonzales, who is one of about 30 pros who play the major tours who have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses, about the first round at the El Cameleon Golf Club. "The wind is definitely up out there, so every shot you have to concentrate. Everything so far has been fun. I've missed two cuts by a couple shots, so the first round out here is a blast. I played Pebble Beach before we came here. It was a treat, my first time out there, and really just had a lot of fun and have enjoyed everything I've been doing so far."
Gonzales moved to the Las Vegas Golf Region from Olympia, Washington, after transferring to UNLV in 2002. He previously played at Oregon State but ended up playing for three years with the Rebels, culminating with 3rd team All-American honors in 2006. He won two tournaments in his college career, one coming at the prestigious William H. Tucker Invitational. While at UNLV, he was a teammate of Brien Davis, the son of Mike Davis, a PGA of America Master Teacher (click and you, too, can work with Davis). Gonzales has been working with the elder Davis ever since. Davis has been impressed with Gonzales and his dedication to the game in the last year, especially.
"It's a long process," says Davis, who is the Director of Instruction for Walters Golf. "He was close to making a breakthrough for awhile but he is now mentally ready. He really understands how to play the game now when before he didn't have as firm a grasp on what to do in certain situations. He understands he can't let the little things bother him, and he is handling everything very well. At Q School he just went out and played the game the right way and that led to his success."
Davis, a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Professional, is confident good things will happen to Gonzales because his game is PGA Tour ready. "He has a great short game and has the ability to make a lot of birdies," says Davis. "He can really get it going and when he does, he will have a chance to win. It will be a lot of fun to watch when he is in the last group, or near the last group, during a final round." Davis says that Gonzales is a self sufficient player but he will travel to a couple events to check in with him during the season.
Gonzales is a newlywed, and he and his wife, Kristin, are using the trip for both business and pleasure. "I think this place is beautiful," said Gonzales. "Everybody here treats you and welcomes you as much as they can. Like I said, the course and the resort at Mayakoba are phenomenal. My wife and I are actually treating this as our honeymoon. We got married a year and a half ago but never — we weren't able to really afford to have a honeymoon, so we're kind of treating this as our honeymoon. We're staying here on-site and really just having a great time." Three more rounds and a $666,000 first-place check might take care of anymore money troubles the couple might have.
Gonzales is also one of several golfers on the PGA Tour who are wearing custom belts from Las Vegas' 59 Belts. The company was created by longtime teaching pro Trevor Derrheim. Click now to view the official website at 59Belts.com. A special fu manchu buckle is being created specifically for Gonzales by the 59 Belts team. NOTE: GolfLasVegasNow.com is a credentialed media source of the PGA Tour. Quotes from ASAPSports.com.