Living the Dream for Celia

Raised by the coastline of Santiago, Spain, golf was not a prevalent sport, yet Fatima Fernandez Cano’s parents introduced her to the game at a young age. They enjoyed having the family play together at Aeroclub de Santiago in Galicia, Spain, and after picking up clubs for the first time at four-years-old, Fernandez Cano cannot remember a day without golf in her life.

“Between junior clinics and summer camps, I can just picture little Fati holding clubs,” said Fernandez Cano. “My parents, Fatima and Eduardo, would take my two brothers, Luis and Alberto, and I to the course in the summertime and just drop us off. Then pick us up at the end of the day. But when I was around 14 or 15, the country club shut down and all I had left was a driving range, so I wasn’t able to practice much anymore.”

Despite the sparse opportunities for Fernandez Cano to practice, she jumped on every chance to compete. Throughout her first few years of competitive amateur golf, she represented the state of Galicia in the Match Juvenil Federacionces del Noroeste, a competition within the states in Spain for young golfers. Here she was able to meet other girls with the same passion for the game and start friendships that would be around for years to come.

“I first met Celia Barquín Arozamena at one of the competitions when we played against each other. Through many conversations, we noticed we had a lot of stuff in common, like the fact that we both came from the north and it was tougher to find somewhere to practice,” said Fernandez Cano. “It brought us closer growing up together learning the game and then we both decided to play college golf in the United States.”

Fatima Fernandez Cano

September 17, 2020

Taking the next step of her career, Fernandez Cano blindly committed to play collegiately for Troy University across the ocean. Without an overnight visit, she trusted in Troy’s coaches in knowing this was the best move for her. Four years later, Fernandez Cano found herself a four-time All-Sun Belt First-Team selection, an eight-time medalist that included the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Championship and the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Golfer of the Year. With the extensive opportunities collegiate golf provided Cano to work on her skills compared to the driving range back in Spain, she started to see a further career in golf.

“I took the time to work hard, get better, and dream about it. People over here (in America) value that way more than they would back home,” said Fernandez Cano. “I was so used to people not even knowing what golf was sometimes. None of my friends from high school played and golf was sometimes not even considered a sport. “I feel like here everybody knows a lot of people who play golf, and they value the fact that I work at it and I wanted to continue.”

Fatima wearing the bracelet and pin in honor of Celia

After finishing T101 at Stage II of the 2017 LPGA Qualifying Tournament, she first earned Symetra Tour membership as a 2018 rookie. Only weeks after she finished T3 at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge near the end of her first year, she traveled to Prattville, AL for the 2018 Guardian Championship. She woke up for her last practice round before the tournament was underway, only to learn the tragic news of losing one of her closest competitors, teammates and friends.

“I looked at my phone, it was blowing up and I didn’t understand what was happening. These people telling me ‘I am sorry for your loss,’ and all that. It wasn’t until I opened a link or something about 15 minutes later that said, ‘Spanish golfer, Celia Barquín Arozamena, murdered in Iowa State’ and my heart dropped,” said Fernandez Cano.

On September 17, 2018, 22-year-old, Arozamena was killed at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, IA. She attended Iowa State where she was three-time First Team All Big-12, the 2018 Big-12 Champion and Iowa State Athlete of the Year. Earlier that year she competed in the U.S. Women’s Open and had planned to eventually turn professional.

Fatima and Celia with Spanish Team for the European Championship
“I just couldn’t believe it, I thought I was living a nightmare and I didn’t think I was awake at all,” said Fernandez Cano. “I cried for probably three hours straight. I just remember driving to the golf course to be with the other Spaniards and being so lucky to have people around me who cared so much and understood the pain I was going through.”

Fatima Fernandez Cano

September 17, 2020

Fernandez Cano knew Arozamena since they were young girls with big dreams and were even teammates for the Spanish National Team during the 2015 and 2016 European Championship. Now each week on the Symetra Tour, Fernandez Cano honors Arozamena in several ways. A pin on her hat and her driver cover are both decorated with the initials “CBA” in red and yellow, Arozamena’s favorite colors. Additionally, Cano sports a bracelet that says “Todo cuenta, todo vale”, translated “Everything counts,” a saying Arozamena would consistently use and live by.

“I was talking to her mom, Mirian, the other day and we both agree there is something that is helping us from somewhere. It’s very light will never fade, she will always give us energy,” said Fernandez Cano.  “I am not living this dream just for me, but also for her.”

This year, Fernandez Cano has made four cuts in four starts with three top-10 finishes. She claimed her first Symetra Tour Champion title at the 2020 IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. Currently No. 4 in the Volvik Race for the Card rankings, Fernandez Cano will compete next week at the IOA Golf Classic presented by HomeValue.com.