What would you say were the odds of it raining in Arizona at the end of November and then to be still raining at the beginning of December? We?re talking back to back albatrosses here which, as we all know, are rarer birds than those hen harriers that got blasted out of the sky over the Queen?s Balmoral Estate a little while back.
Since the previous week I was in Southern Spain when it rained, I am beginning to think that maybe I have a rare talent for delivering water to drought-stricken areas, which is clearly a greater gift than simply being able to hit a five iron two hundred yards into a stiff breeze.
Anyway, there I was in Tucson, unsurprisingly with neither waterproofs nor an umbrella, watching the rain come down. Rather disappointingly, the desert didn?t suddenly burst into bloom as I thought it was going to. If it had, that would have been some consolation for getting dreadfully wet. To be honest, I?m exaggerating a tad as we journalists are often inclined to do in order to make the story sound more dramatic. In truth, it wasn?t raining that hard. But even not hard rain is an event in Arizona.
People came out of their houses and poured into the streets to stare up at the almost unprecedented grey skies. Americans think we Brits talk about nothing but the weather. Actually, they weren?t so much talking as yelling. ?Hey, it?s raining,? they screamed, and stood around in little knots staring at puddles and giggling excitedly.
Not only was it raining, but the temperature also dropped somewhere below the seasonal average around the high 70s. In fact, it was a rather refreshingly in the mid-60s. In my hotel there was a minor crisis until someone figured out how to reverse the air conditioning and blow hot air back into the rooms rather than suck it out.
Although it was extremely unusual and not altogether welcome, in truth the weather wasn?t much of a problem. At least I didn?t think so. But half-way round this impressive desert course one of our fourball said that he thought it would be sensible if we stopped. With 12 Stableford points already banked, you can perhaps understand my reluctance to quit. What really amazed me was the high proportion of people who were happy to sit in the clubhouse for the rest of the afternoon. In true gritty fashion, I completed my round (as, indeed, you would have expected), but very few did.
Out of the 24 starters only six made it up the 18th, which at least guaranteed me a welcome top six finish. However, the organisers cancelled the round for competition purposes leading to lengthy objections and much moaning. Tough cowboys, pah! If it had started to drizzle the West would almost certainly never have been won.