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Stephen Gallacher: Greenkeepers were the real winners at a waterlogged Dunhill Links

Remarkable effort from the course staff to ensure play went ahead on Monday.

The adverse weather conditions that led to play being abandoned at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Image: SNS
The adverse weather conditions that led to play being abandoned at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Image: SNS

Matt Fitzpatrick claimed the tournament victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Monday but the true winners were the greenkeepers.

It was disappointing that play on Saturday and Sunday was washed out by some truly unbelievable rain.

But it was a near superhuman effort from those out on the courses to make them playable on Monday.

When I saw the images of Carnoustie on Sunday and the burst banks of the Barry Burn I did not in my wildest dreams expect to play my final round there on Monday.

The rainfall in the space of 36 hours over the weekend was unbelievable.

That would have meant the tournament being brought to a close with no winner which would have been a real shame.

In a tournament where players compete across three courses clearly all three courses have been to be used and two out of three simply would not have cut the mustard.

So credit where it’s due for the work done to ensure we could at least play out a reduced 54-hole format to find a winner.

Monday finish brought logistical problems

The biggest issue was not the waiting to play though.

It can be challenging mentally sitting around all day waiting to hear whether you are going to play but the decision was taken to halt proceedings early on both Saturday and Sunday.

The real challenge was trying to sort out alternative plans to compensate for an extended stay in the area.

My family and I stayed in rented accommodation but we were due to check out on Sunday.

With it being the October break and a tourist hotspot in and around St Andrews, trying to extend our stay was a non-starter so we had no option but to return home.

At least I could make the drive back on Monday.

The other issue we had to sort was putting flights on hold. It was Tuesday evening before I got on my plane for the Spanish Open.

It’s the risk we take with scheduling a golf tournament in October but it’s nothing new.

The second day of play last year was the worst weather conditions I’ve played in my career.

Had play somehow gone ahead on either Saturday or Sunday then it would have topped that of 12 months ago.

As it was, despite the horrendous rainfall over the weekend I found myself playing the final round in a t-shirt in 16 degrees on Monday.

A memorable moment for champion Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick and mother Susan won the 2023 Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship. Image: SNS

It was incredible and I’m sure the wait was worth it for champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

Some players find the tank has run empty after the Ryder Cup. Others are carried through on the emotional high of the week before and it’s clear that was the case for Matt.

He really rode the crest of a wave to come through and clinch a three-shot victory.

To win the tournament was brilliant but to also win the Pro-Am team event with his mum Susan is fantastic.

It’s those sort of moments which make this tournament – even with all that rain – so special.

History beckons for home hopeful Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm is bidding for his fourth Spanish Open title this week. Image: Shutterstock

The Spanish Open is next up on the schedule and this week is a big one for local hero Jon Rahm.

Jon made history last year when he won the event for the third time, tying the legendary Seve Ballesteros in winning his home tournament three times.

Given he has only played it seven times you can see why the bookmakers fancy his chances of making it four wins from eight attempts this week.

After all, how could you bet against a man who shot rounds of 64, 68, 65 and 62 to win a year ago?

Club de Campo Villa de Madrid is a fantastic course. It is a proper old-school venue which is always in awesome condition.

To be mentioned in the same breath as one of the all-time greats and a man who helped make our tour what it is today must feel pretty special.

It’s what every young Spanish golfer dreams of and I expect the chance to make history will drive Jon on.

It might not be this week but it feels inevitable at some point given his record in the event.

Tiger fever is back

Tiger Woods proved yet again you just cannot keep a good man down.

He has been out the spotlight and absent from any conversation since undergoing fusion surgery on his ankle after withdrawing from the Masters.

But that all changed after footage emerged of the 15-time major winner playing at The Hay, a short golf course at Pebble Beach, at the weekend.

The reaction has been, predictably, ridiculous. He’s everywhere again with his swing being analysed and the inevitable debate about whether he is coming back is up and running again.

Tiger is golf’s international man of mystery. Everything he does leaves you with more questions and it’s all part of his appeal.

The footage was shared on social media because he wanted it to be.

He wanted to be in the public discourse and no doubt everyone will be looking at his event, the Hero World Challenge at the end of November as a date for a potential comeback.

If he does then all the talk will be will Tiger be at Augusta next year?

I’d certainly love to see him back playing again. As I’ve said repeatedly the man is the box office attraction in the sport.

Its profile is never higher than when he is playing.