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News & Notes
Edited by Kevin Cook
September 28, 1998
The Golden RuleAn old feud got a new twist at the Troph�e Lanc�me
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September 28, 1998

News & Notes

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Jack Burke Jr., '54



Payne Stewart, '86



Jim Furyk, '97



Tom Kite, '88



Fuzzy Zoeller, '94



Bruce Devlin, '65



Jerry Pate, '80



Johnny Pott, '61



Bill Rogers, 79



Payne Stewart, '93



The Golden Rule
An old feud got a new twist at the Troph�e Lanc�me

There is no more sumptuous tournament in the world than the Troph�e Lanc�me, held outside Paris in Versailles, a timeless French paradise of gardens and palaces. But it was here that the ugly, still festering feud between Mark O'Meara and Sweden's Jarmo Sandelin began precisely a year ago, and it was here on Sunday that those two antagonists came within a last-minute miracle shot of carrying their fight into sudden death.

Sandelin, a 30-year-old European tour maverick, had finished a stroke behind winner O'Meara at last year's Troph�e Lanc�me and then, months later, had accused O'Meara of cheating during the tournament. As proof Sandelin produced a videotape showing that the current Masters and British Open champion had mismarked his ball, placing it an inch ahead of his marker on a two-foot putt. Sandelin asked the Euro tour to take the trophy back from the American and give it to him. When tour officials refused, saying that too much time had passed and that there was no evidence O'Meara had meant to cheat, Sandelin went public. His crusade has led other players to see him as a loose cannon, a Jarmo One-Note. According to O'Meara, more than 20 European players have apologized to him for Sandelin's actions.

"Jarmo gave me the tape," Colin Montgomerie said earlier this year, "but I told him the incident was over. 'Let it die,' I said, but he wouldn't listen."

Last week O'Meara repeated his refrain on l'affaire Sandelin. "My conscience is clear and the matter is closed," he said. Still, he would have loved to repeat as champion, if only to one-up Sandelin, who blazed out of the pack with a 63 on Sunday to challenge for the lead. O'Meara was a stroke up on Sandelin when he reached the 72nd green, but there he uncharacteristically missed a six-footer for par. That bogey would leave O'Meara tied not only with Sandelin but also with David Duval and New Zealand's Greg Turner, one stroke behind Spain's Miguel Angel Jim�nez. When Jim�nez hit a horrible four-iron far left of the green on the 210-yard par-3 18th at St. Nom la Br�tche, the stage seemed set for a delicious playoff.

Then, with a jolt, the curtain came down. Jim�nez lofted an impossible 30-yard wedge shot over a bunker and into the cup for a birdie and a two-shot win. His miraculous finish left his pursuers shaking their heads. "Hey, Jim�nez needed that more than we did," said Duval. "I'm happy for him."

The defeat was a bitter pill for O'Meara, though. He admits he has lost more than a few nights' sleep worrying that his reputation as a man of honor has been irreparably damaged by Sandelin's campaign, and he wanted to make a stern reply with his clubs. "Didn't play very well today, bud," he said with a tight smile after Sunday's round. "Disappointing." O'Meara considers his greatest year a mixed bag due to the ball-marking incident. In May, in the players' lounge at a tournament in Hamburg, he tried to explain himself to his accuser. "I kept telling him it was a mistake, and Jarmo kept saying it was an inexcusable mistake," O'Meara recalls. "The guy was a jerk. I finally told him I wasn't going to give back the trophy." O'Meara then uttered two more words before turning and walking away.

Perhaps it was fitting that Sandelin went from accuser to accused last week. During Saturday's third round one of his playing partners, Lee Westwood, charged that Sandelin had broken a rule on the 2nd hole that day, failing to take a penalty stroke when his ball moved after he had addressed a one-foot putt. Sandelin acknowledged that the ball had moved but insisted he had broken no rule. He never grounds his putter on tap-ins, he said; thus he had not formally addressed the ball.

Westwood wasn't buying it. He kept arguing with Sandelin after the round. Soon the two players and John Paramor, the European tour's chief rules official, were seen hashing out their differences in front of the five-star Hotel Trianon. When O'Meara walked by and heard what was going on, he couldn't help smiling.

In the end Paramor concluded that "the allegation was not proven." Westwood shook off questions with a terse "no comment," and Sandelin, who escaped disqualification, seemed energized at having dodged a bullet. "I was very low because I thought he was going to believe Westwood," he said of Paramor. "When it came out good for me, I got a fighting spirit." His 63 the next day tied a personal best.

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