ONE of the great joys of writing a column is finishing it and washing your hands of it. Presumably, those of you reading it experience that same sense of unbridled relief when it’s done too.

I always remember catching sight of a gentleman on the train who was nonchalantly leafing through the sport section within these very pages on a Tuesday trundle into the toon.

As he neared the back page, my intrigue was roused and, in curious anticipation, I gently craned my neck to get a better view like someone in the background on the Antiques Roadshow peering in on a valuation of some fusty old hinged trinket box.

“Would he be an avid fan of my golfing bletherations?” I thought to myself before swiftly discovering that, no, he wasn’t, as he immediately folded the paper in half upon seeing the words ‘Nick Rodger on Tuesday’ and started idly examining the small print on a cheap day return ticket from Mount Florida instead. “That bloke’s not the sports editor is he?” I grumbled forlornly.

If it’s entertainment you’re looking for, meanwhile, then Sunday night’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans may have been right up your street. The final round was played out in the foursomes format and it inevitably spawned plenty of fluctuating fortunes before Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman triumphed in a play-off.

HeraldScotland:

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The canny Australian pairing may have plundered the prize but the event itself gained plenty of plaudits. Graeme McDowell suggested that there should be a 72-hole tour event dedicated entirely to foursomes and showcasing the robust examination that it sets. “There’s nothing more difficult than having to hit one and then hand it over to your partner and then having him hand it back to you,” said McDowell.

Those of you who regularly find yourself in some quite appalling guddles with your foursomes partner will vouch for the truth in that observation.

Of course, the biggest test of foursomes nerve, skill and dovetailing will take place later this year as part of two sessions in the Ryder Cup.

Padraig Harrington’s European side will travel to Wisconsin in September looking for just a third away win in two decades. Conquering on US soil can often be as difficult a task as refurbishing Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat on a tight budget.

The fact Europe’s team-bonding tussles have diminished in recent years may yet have an impact on those ambitions. When the EurAsia Cup - a match in non-Ryder Cup years between European and Asian players -  was quietly discontinued back in 2019, a much appreciated part of Europe’s Ryder Cup preparation was lost.

Prior to the EurAsia Cup, the Seve Trophy and the Royal Trophy both provided longstanding and worthwhile platforms but they would eventually wither on the vine. In many ways, these events all served a valuable purpose in terms of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal and were viewed as part of the successful formula of cohesion and continuity that Europe had forged through seven wins in the last 10 Ryder Cup cups.

They all offered potential Ryder Cup players a flavour of the team room environment, of playing in the foursomes and fourballs format and gelling with team-mates in, what is by and a large, a very individual pursuit.

As a breeding ground for potential European captains, meanwhile, the dry run of a Seve Trophy or the EurAsia Cup was hugely beneficial. Paul McGinley, whose Ryder Cup-winning captaincy at Gleneagles in 2014 was venerated to such an extent he is now permanently perched on a marble plinth, has never under-estimated its worth.

“I wouldn’t have been (Ryder Cup) captain without the ability to prove myself in the Seve Trophy,” he said of those successful stints leading GB&I in 2009 and 2011.

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The aforementioned Harrington won’t get such a trial in the hot seat and he’ll be the first European skipper not to have had a warm-up outing since 2006. Harrington, with a stellar cv, has nothing to prove but he would no doubt have relished the opportunity to have a birl around in a captain’s buggy amid the cut-and-thrust of an event prior to the transatlantic showdown. In this contest of fine margins, every little helps.

AND ANOTHER THING. . .

The first picture of Tiger Woods since his frightful car crash in February just about gained more gasps than the ones that get beamed back from the contraption that’s beetling about on Mars.

Balanced on crutches, wearing a surgical boot and with his dog beside him, Woods posted up an image of smiling rehabilitation to his social media site.

It appeared just days after details of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program was unveiled, a $40m bonanza aimed at rewarding those players who “positively move the needle.” Even in convalescence, Woods doesn’t just move the golf needle. He is the needle.

AND FINALLY

The Scottish Open’s title sponsor, Standard Life Aberdeen, is in the process of rebranding itself amid much high-profile ridicule. As of the summer, the financial giant will be known as ‘Abrdn’ which looks more like one of those jumbled text messages that gets inadvertently composed when you sit on your mobile phone. We look forward to covering the ‘Abrdn Sctsh Opn’