Greg Santora still remembers the comical side of Andres Gonzales, once one of Santora’s prized high school golfers and now a rookie on the PGA Tour.
But Santora, who coached golf at Capital for 30 years before retiring last year, also remembers Gonzales’ serious side.
“He was a bit of a jokester in high school,” Santora said. “He pulled a couple of pranks on me. But when it came to playing golf, he was all business.”
Gonzales’ reputation hasn’t changed. Last week, Gonzales was in the national limelight as both prankster and golfer. He was featured in an ESPN story written by columnist Rick Riley. Gonzales also played in the U.S. Open, shooting rounds of 79-70 and missing the cut.
Besides his golf, Gonzales has captured some national attention for his prank Twitter tweets to Tiger Woods. Last week, he tweeted to Tiger, “As you probably know, my birthday was this week. I believe you owe me a night around a camp fire with songs and smores.”
Naturally, Gonzales isn’t friends with the game’s most famous name. Tiger never responds to the tweets. Nor does he ever read them. He doesn’t even know Gonzales.
Gonzales said his tweets are just good natured fun with his friends and anyone else who might notice. He’s hoping to shirt-tail on Tigers’ fame. It worked. Riley noticed.
“I’d rather be known for my golf,” Gonzales said on a KIRO sports talk radio show last week. “But I’ll take it whatever way I can. It’s gotten me a little notoriety. Now, all I have to do is go out there with my sticks and play well.”
That day might come.
But for now, Gonzales is trying to make the cut on the PGA Tour in his rookie season. Going into this week, he had played in 13 PGA events and made the cut six times. This year alone he’s played in 10 PGA events and made the cut three times, averaging 72.41 strokes.
He tied for 38th at the St. Jude Classic, pocketing $21,840 and more than doubling his year’s earnings. When Riley asked him what he was going to do with the earnings, Gonzales, in his typical humorous tone, said, “What am I going to do with it? Give it to my wife. What else?”
This week at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., Gonzales shot back-to-back rounds of 73 and missed the cut after Friday’s round.
Santora still gets a chuckle out Gonzales’ sense of humor. There was the time when the two of them walked out of a restaurant in Burlington, where they had gone for a golf tournament.
“He said, ‘My car is stolen,’” Santora said, laughing at the memory.
Gonzales had moved his parent’s SUV during dinner.
“But I got my revenge,” Santora said. “We were at a Mexican restaurant and he thought he could eat something really hot.”
Gonzales tried the spicy food.
“He was totally red,” Santora said. “But he wouldn’t admit it was hot. He started drinking a lot of milk. He never ate the meal. So, it was a payback.”
The 28-year-old Gonzales, who played on Capital’s state championship team in 1999, went to Oregon State out of high school and played golf there one year. Gonzales admitted he “partied his way out of school.” He then transferred to UNLV where he roomed with Ryan Moore, who is today also on the PGA Tour.
“He helped me a ton,” said Gonzales, who graduated from UNLV in 2006.
Gonzales began golfing at age 8 with his dad, Fred. His father died of pancreatic cancer in 2007. His wife’s grandfather also died of pancreatic cancer. To help, Gonzales has let his hair grow to his shoulders and will donate it to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair going through chemotherapy.
Gonzales admitted to Riley that his dad would “roll around in his grave” if he saw his son’s hair. On July 25, Gonzales will host a tournament at the Tacoma Country Club and it will also be a fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research.
In high school, Santora said Gonzales wasn’t just a joke machine always looking for a laugh.
“He was very focused, very competitive,” Santora said. “He’s a hard worker. Between me and Joe Thiel, his swing coach, we knew the potential was there.”
And so was his sense of humor.
“He’s one of the most personable guys you’re going to ever meet,” Santora said