Certain rules were in force for the Tour, specifically the LME pamphlet on harassment and abuse, which resulted in deducting shots from handicaps for such offences as calling other players names or commenting on their inability to extract themselves from bunkers.
The winner each day is cut by two shots for the next round and the runner-up by one, while the lowest scorer receives two shots and the next lowest one shot. Every player can reject one of his five rounds and the four remaining scores count towards the final tournament score, the winner receiving the Foster Plate.
Day One dawned at Penha Longa's Atlantic Championship course with 40mph winds predicted, gusting to 60mph. This was good as far as the temperature was concerned as it kept the players relatively cool in the 30C heat. Most of the party were straight off the plane, so with that and the high winds scoring was very difficult, but a remarkable 32 points by Tanya Epshteyn, two clear of Derek Raphael and another two clear of the Captain saw Tanya's handicap cut by two shots and Derek's by one. "Encouragement" in the form of additional shots was granted to the two lowest scorers. The average score was just over 20 points.
Day Two started with a two hour coach transfer to West Cliffs. The winds had dropped slightly but the course proved difficult. A relatively new course, it seemed to have been carved out of the native scrub which cloaks the hills in this part of Portugal and a lot of the scrub was allowed to grow in the bunkers, meaning a misplaced shot could result in a lost ball in a bunker. This did not deter Tanya, however, who ran out the day's winner with another 32 points, this time 4 clear of her nearest contender who was once again the captain. The average score for Day Two was a mere 21 points.
Day Three was a more relaxed venue at Oitavos Dunes. A beautiful clifftop course on the Tagus estuary, Oitavos is a more mature course with some tough uphill holes to make up for being slightly shorter than other courses. The average score rose accordingly to over 25 points, but Martin Abbott belittled that with a blistering 38 points from Rob Draisey's 35 and Frits Beek and Tanya Epshteyn's 34 points.
Day Four saw the party at the very traditional and attractive Estoril course, another that makes up for its relative shortness with a few tricky par threes and well bunkered greens. The average score for the day was 25 points but once again Tanya trumped the field with a steady 34 points, matched by Alex Heath with Martin Abbott on 32. The field was narrowing now, quite considerably as the worst rounds were discarded, but it left Tanya well ahead of the field for the last round, with Martin Abbott and Frits Beek the only realistic contenders.
Day Five back at Penha Longa, where the average score was 29 points, saw John Ambery record the highest score for the Tour at 39 while Tanya delivered her lowest score, which she discarded, leaving her on 132 points - two 34s and two 32s. It meant Martin Abbott had to score a near impossible 40 points to overhaul her, which proved too much as he finished with 121 with Frits on 120 in third place. Tanya therefore holds the Foster Plate and we look forward to her defending her title next year.
The Vice Captain will present his choices for the 2020 Tour in the Autumn, so watch this space!