Week 17: Murcar
Date: February 21
Weather: rain – torrential
Greens: mostly summer, a few winter
Mats: yes
Preferred Lies: yes

The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest place on earth. This arid stretch of land has an average annual rainfall of just 1.3cm. The few thirsty residents of the Atacama would have been very jealous of the Alliance competitors at Murcar yesterday. Roughly 1.3cm of rain had fallen on us by the time we?d walked from the clubhouse to the first tee.

I?m generally a very negative person but, for some reason, when it comes to the weather I?m blindly optimistic. When I woke up yesterday it was still dark so I went over to my computer to check the weather forecast. Metcheck.com told me that between 10.30 and 1.30 (the time of my round) it was going to be fine and dry with no wind and a temperature of 5?C. Great, I thought. What luck! When I went downstairs to have some breakfast I was surprised to hear rain belting down onto the conservatory roof. Strange, I thought. It must be a freak shower. Driving towards Aberdeen the rain continued to lash down. Hmm. It must be clear on the coast. Sitting in the clubhouse I was sure I could see brighter skies out to sea getting ever closer. On the 10th the rain eased off for about five minutes. I was convinced that was the end of it. Walking towards the 18th green looking like a drowned rat I had to admit Metcheck had got it wrong. The rain wasn?t going to go off.

Thank goodness I?ve got a rain glove. For those who don?t own one I?d strongly recommend it. It allows you to keep a hold of the club even when the grip is slipperier than a snake that?s got loose in a baby oil factory. I didn?t suffer a single instance of club leaving hand (even from anger). The conditions were challenging though. Pretty much the entire course was casual water and virtually every piece of me and my equipment was drenched after about three holes.

Although my score wasn?t good I?m still quite proud of the round owing to the Montyesque levels of grit and determination on display. Firstly, it was pretty gritty of us to play given the apocalyptic deluge in progress at our start time. Mind you, giving it a go was never in question as my thinking is: if the course is open, I?m playing. (I was mightily impressed at the number of people who did head out and brave the elements.) Secondly, it was pretty gritty of me not to NR after hitting a second ball deep into gorse at the 8th and going back to my bag to play five off the tee. Thirdly, it was extremely gritty of me to come back in level par after going out in +10. I know the game is always about ifs and buts, but if I hadn?t lost three balls and had four three-putts on the front nine my score would have been excellent.

Given the conditions Stewart played brilliantly to return a score of -1. Cormack and I were full of praise and thought he had a good chance of winning the event. In typical Stewart fashion he said he had no chance as he?d left at least four shots out there and someone would be sure to do better. He won. Technically I beat Cormack as he NR?d at the 11th. The fact he was nine shots ahead of me at that point is irrelevant.

I?ve got a very good short game on the little bit of carpet between our front door and the bottom of our stairs. Unfortunately I don?t seem to be able to take that deft touch out onto the course. But last night, after watching a bit of the Accenture World Match Play, I made what can only be described as a very important discovery. It?s complicated and to do with straight wrists and an extended follow-through. I?m pretty sure it could be the key to dramatically lowering my scores. I?ll keep you posted.