By Marvin Luu
Senior Pete Fernandez is closing out yet another prolific season, having recorded three top-10 finishes this year and picking up the Big West Conference Golfer of the Month honors in March. Over the past few years, Fernandez has solidified himself as an outstanding student-athlete with an impressive track record that will definitely get him some nods on a national level. Before Fernandez heads into Big West Conference Championship play from April 26-28, I caught up with the humble Bakersfield native to reflect on his long and successful run with ‘Eaters thus far in his collegiate career.
- What inspired you to play golf and what has motivated you to continue to get better each and every year?
“My dad got me into it and it was just really fun so I just kept going with it. I used to play a lot of basketball when I was younger and that was what I would have rather done when I was around five or six, but obviously I’m not tall enough so I kind of realized that in junior high so I told myself ‘okay no this not going to happen’ so I just kept playing golf and got more serious with it and I turned out pretty decent.”
- Did you have any idols growing up? Are there any professional golfers or anyone from your family in particular that played the sport?
“No not really, for my family it was just something fun for us to do and that was pretty much it. As far as golf is concerned, it was pretty much only my dad who had taught me and got me really into it.”
- Coming into UCI, what did you expect from playing golf at a collegiate level as opposed to in high school? Has the experience matched what you have expected?
“My first year as a freshman was pretty different. It was a lot more competitive and the courses were harder, but I mean, I knew that was going to happen because it’s always different when you actually go out there and experience it.”
- How have you managed to balance academics and being a part of the men’s golf program here at UCI?
“You really just have to make your own schedule out and tell yourself, ‘okay here are my classes and this is the time that I’m going to dedicate to school and this is when I’m going to practice.’ Then the next part is sticking to [your schedule] because it’s so easy to either say, ‘oh I’m not going to practice here I’m just going to hang out or something. This year has been much more time consuming with academics because I’m in my masters right now, so it’s been a different experience from the rest, but its still been manageable if I’m just focusing in on what I need to do.”
- In golf, as in most other sports, retaining focus prior to games is often extremely important. Do you have a pre-event ritual or routine that you go through in order to get focused?
“I don’t really have a pre-event or pre-tournament routine, just a pre-shot routine which is what normally golfers would have. At this time, I try my best to keep focused and some things come up, but they’re random stuff that you can usually block out.”
- What must be your sweetest moment here at UCI?
“It’s really a tie between coming third at Western Intercollegiate and winning our home tournament, but yeah, winning our home tournament was a big deal for me.”
- With the improvement of players in your team, like David Kim steadily improving, what do you see in their growth and what advice do you have for them?
“I would tell them to just keep working hard. I see a lot of potential in the kids that have come in and they really just need to keep focusing, doing what they need to do, and to keep working hard. They are all getting better…I’ve seen from the very start that they have improved a lot so it has been fun to watch and I’m excited to see what is going to come [for them] in the future.
- So what is next? What are you planning to do in the future?
“I’m just going to finish up school first and try to get that out of the way and then I’m going to try professional golf. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and improve on the little things to get better because those little things are so, so important.”