Last year on the Epson Tour, Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) found her breakthrough moment at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa where she captured her first win on the “Road to the LPGA.” Her win was one of six top-15 performances across eight starts in the 2021 season. The success came just three years into her career after graduating from Troy University. But how did someone from a small town in Spain with just a driving range find herself in Alabama for college golf?
“Most of my friends that were on the [Spanish] national teams already had bigger teams [or universities] because they would send people to Europe for the European Championship and British Amateur to recruit. But I was not at that level until I was in college,” said Fernandez Cano. “All I did was send [Troy University] my scores, which I didn’t even have many because my golf course at home had closed and all I had was a driving range. I had scores for regionals which I did well at but I would play mostly against the guys when I could because not a lot of girls were playing.
“[After they got my scores and swing videos], I literally took a phone call, barely understood what they were saying at the time because of their accent and my English was not that great and over the phone was just awful. But they told me they had a spot for me. I did more research online where the school was and said ok, we are going, I’ll sign the papers.”
The four-time All-Sun Belt First Team selection and eight-time tournament winner for Troy University is grateful for her time in Alabama, which she calls her ‘second home.’ Many people in the area have supported Fernandez Cano in her journey to the LPGA Tour. From Shoal Creek hiring her to work and provide a place for practice between Tour weeks, to those who cheer for her week in and week out on the Epson Tour.
“I literally thought I was going home [after the first few months at Troy University]. All my teammates were from America except my roommate who was from England. It was so different,” said Fernandez Cano. “I told myself let’s make it until Christmas and if I really hate it, I don’t have to come back. It was very lonely. I was lost. But I got help from my teammates who were very nice to me and I started playing very well. I think playing well and getting to be able to play golf and get a degree [which is not an option in Spain] really helped me stay because I was doing what I loved.
I am very thankful for what Alabama has done for me. I came to Troy not knowing much and it was super different. It was a shock. If I didn’t and have Troy and the facilities Troy gave me, I probably wouldn’t have been as good as I got through college which ultimately helped me turn pro.”
With four events remaining in this season, Fernandez Cano enters the week coming off her 20th top-10 finish this season with T5 at the Circling Raven Championship presented by KXLY 4 News Now. She finished the season at No. 4 in the Race for the Card after claiming her first career win and is currently in the same position as she heads into the first round of the Guardian Championship.