A couple of weeks ago in this column’s opening meander, I went to excruciatingly unnecessary lengths to tell you how useless I was at admin. With that in mind, you’ll not be surprised to learn that I’m still faffing and footering about with my online self-assessment tax return as the deadline hurtles towards me at the terrifying rate of the mega-meteor that obliterated the dinosaurs.

For ages now, I’ve been getting email reminders from the good folk at HMRC saying, “Don’t leave it to the last minute”. Funnily enough, I also get emails from a weary sports editor saying something similar about filing the Tuesday column…with a couple of colourful phrases added in to hammer home the point.

Of course, as soon as someone urges you not to leave something to the last minute, what do you do? That’s right. You leave it to the last bloomin’ minute. So now, I’ll be spending the final day of January flapping around like a shrieking Pterodactyl that’s bracing itself for an extinction-level event. What was it the late, great Ken Dodd said again? “I told the Inland Revenue I didn’t owe them a penny because I lived near the seaside.” I’m quite near the Queen’s Park duck pond. Does that count?

Anyway, it can be tricky to focus the mind on a fiddly, flummoxing tax form when you’re distracted by a Monday finish at a tour event of absorbing intrigue.

Rory McIlroy’s slender victory over pantomime baddie Patrick Reed in the weather-delayed Hero Dubai Desert Classic yesterday got the world No.1’s 2023 campaign off to a thrilling start.

It was a fascinating conclusion to a lively few days at the Emirates Club. Unless you had your head buried in a self-assessment thingamajig, you’re probably aware of the stooshie that erupted in the build-up to the Dubai showpiece between McIlroy and LIV Golf rebel Reed. We’ll briefly recap it just in case. On the driving range in Dubai, McIlroy ignored Reed’s attempt to say hello which led to the American playfully flicking a tee in McIlroy’s direction. By the time social media got wind of affairs and added its own hysterical arms and legs to the matter, “Tee-gate”, as it was swiftly christened, had exploded like a malfunction at a munitions depot.

In the press conference that followed, we learned that Reed’s lawyers had delivered a court summons to McIlroy on Christmas Eve. McIlroy, as candid as ever, didn’t hide his disdain for Reed while Reed himself branded the Northern Irishman an “immature little child”. With all this bubbling away, the prospect of McIlroy and Reed being paired together during the event had giddy onlookers drooling like a Mastiff gazing at a bucket of link sausages.

That grouping didn’t transpire, unfortunately, but the fact that Reed, playing in the penultimate match on the final day, hounded McIlroy all the way with a gallant offensive provided tremendous theatre. Hands up those of you were wanting a play-off? C’mon, get your hands up. It would’ve been a such a fiery shoot-out, the DP World Tour officials probably would’ve needed to set up a police cordon as the duo returned to the tee.

Enmity, excitement, rivalry, rancour? This particular desert storm had it all and you can’t say it wasn’t enjoyable. Golf, or indeed any sport, thrives when big personalities and even bigger adversaries go head-to-head.

The “Tee-gate” kerfuffle may have been fairly petty, school playground nonsense, but, my goodness, it certainly helped to elevate the Dubai Desert Classic into captivating, must-watch territory.

This was a tale of two world-class golfers going at it hammer and tongs. For those taking a broader view of the game’s current battlefield, it was also McIlroy, the knight in shining armour of the established tours, striking a blow against the menace of the LIV Golf renegades and delivering a Harvey Smith salute to the Saudi-backed upstarts.

Imagine, though, if Reed had conquered? It would’ve been LIV’s biggest moment since they coaxed Open champion Cameron Smith away from the PGA Tour. Greg Norman, LIV’s combative chief executive, certainly wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to gloat and beat his chest with goading gusto had McIlroy been vanquished.

In the end, though, it was McIlroy who revelled in the bragging rights and he was well aware of the wider significance of his victory. As for the fans of the game? Well, the rip-roaring finale in Dubai, which was far more enthralling than anything LIV’s manufactured shotgun format has served up, showed us, once again, what we are missing in golf’s current age of division. As it stands, the fractured state of the men’s game means the only time we’ll see all the big guns in one place is during the four major championships. I’m sure most of you, though, would rather see the best going up against the best on a regular basis. You know, like back in those halcyon days of, er, 2021.

Until some form of ceasefire is agreed and the warring factions find some way to co-exist then we’ll just have to muddle on. In the ongoing tensions and tumult, there’s probably more chance of this correspondent getting his tax return in on time than there is of golf’s rival forces reaching a truce.