I shall shortly be off to Portugal to defend my title. Sorry if that sounds a little conceited but it’s something I’ve always wanted to write and now is almost certainly the only chance I’ll ever have; unless, of course, I successfully defend my title in Portugal in which case another opportunity will arise at this time next year. In that extremely unlikely event, I shall show more restraint next time as I’ve now written about defending my title and ought never to feel the need to do it again.

The regular reader of this blog will no doubt vividly recall my trip to the Algarve last autumn when I came about as close as I am ever likely to come to international honours. A dozen teams from across Europe competed in the Portugal Nations Cup and I played alongside three quality England internationals, all of whom were off plus four handicaps, in the curtain raising Press-Am event. (I was the Press and the other three were the Am, which rendered us a little imbalanced, I thought).

We played what I have come to regard as my favourite format… four ball, best ball; that is to say only one of the four balls was to count. I should perhaps add that rarely was that ball mine. However, at two critical points in the round where their collective nerve failed them, I was there like a rock. If pressed, I would be obliged to reveal that one of the two timely contributions I made was a nett birdie; and, if pressed further, I would even more reluctantly – for I am a modest man – have to reveal that my other contribution was a nett eagle.

Since you have made it this far, I can only assume that you are either genuinely interested or indulging in a displacement activity because you don’t fancy filling in your vat return. If it’s the former then you will wish to be told that the team’s aggregate total was an astonishing 15 under par! Quietly confident that we had won by at least half-a-dozen shots, I was shocked to then be told that we had edged it on a countback. Never mind, a win is a win and, frankly, I am not in a position to examine closely the manner in which those few triumphs that drift my way have come about.

Evidently inspired by my gutsy, never-say-die attitude, the lads (we were quite friendly by this stage) went out and tore it up the next day… and the day after that. So, having won the curtain-raiser, England then captured the main event. Whilst they were doing that, I must yet again reveal with the greatest of reluctance, that I was winning the individual press competition. I mention that for one reason and one reason only and that is I like to brag.

Anyway, at the final night’s dinner and presentation, England swept all three prizes and left the rest of the continent feeling in awe of this extraordinary nation where seemingly everyone can play golf to an incredibly high standard. It probably would have been better left like that and for me not to return and disabuse them. Still, when you’ve won a title I think there is a moral obligation to defend. It’s a shame, for example, that Chris Wood, who was a member of that winning Portugal Nations Cup team, won’t be seeking another Silver Medal at Turnberry as it’s not often one gets a chance to defend a title, I find.