After his victory in the USPGA last year Tiger Woods accused his fellow pros, (without pointing any fingers,) of lacking physical fitness. He said they would have dealt better with the stifling heat in Tulsa if they worked out more often. John Daly (not because he?d noticed any fingers aiming at him,) retorted by saying he?d tried working out once but it had made him sick and he could think of far better ways of making himself sick. It was a great little exchange.

Anyway I?m inclined to agree with Tiger. Talent alone will get you a long way in golf ? Daly is the perfect example. But the sport has progressed to a point where more is required to achieve at the highest level. Tiger has incredible talent, but his psychology, nutrition, fitness and equipment are all finely-tuned as well. To beat him, and thereby win Majors, the pros must have the same levels of preparation.

I?m thinking about physical conditioning as I?ve been on a fitness drive recently. I?ve been trying to get into shape, not for golf but because I?m going on a skiing holiday next week. I decided I didn?t want to be crippled after day one so I?ve been doing sit-ups, press-ups, squats and stretches. I?ve even been for the odd run. I?ve only been doing it for a couple of months but I?ve already noticed positive affects, particularly with regards to golf.

I?m not hitting the ball further but I feel more in control of my swing. I?ve got more strength in my core muscles so I?m not moving into the strike as much to generate power. Also I seem to have more energy and have been feeling less tired towards the end of rounds.

Yesterday?s Alliance at Buckpool was a good example. When I lost a ball at the 14th made double bogey and drifted to five over I would, previously, have given up the ghost and frittered away another few shots just to compound my misery. But, I dug deep and played the last four in two under par. My three over 73 was good enough for joint second and another voucher. (My account at the Banchory pro-shop is now so healthy I could afford 267 packets of hand warmers or 1,000 Mars Bars.)

I?m going to try and continue exercising when I get back from skiing but, in reality, I know what?ll happen. By the end of next week I?ll have pulled every muscle in my body, my shins will be bleeding and my knees aching. Add to this the fact the weather here will still be rubbish and I?ll have more than enough excuses to: screw the running and stay at home with a nice cup of tea.

It?s Burns Night tomorrow so I?ll finish with a tribute: an ode to my golf game:

Oh my golf?s like a red, red nose

That?s sported by a cloon;

Oh my golf?s like a melody

Completely out of tune

The fairways have such bonnie grass,

But deep in rough am I;

Though I will love this game, I fear,

Till a? the seas gang dry