If Jarmo Sandelin didn't exist, golf would have to invent him—the clown prince of pasture pool-to keep everybody awake and alert. The jaunty Swede, who belatedly accused Mark O'Meara of mismarking his ball at the '97 Troph�e Lanc�me, also made news last season for:
?Hitting himself with his ball while taking an octuple-bogey 12 at the South African PGA in Johannesburg, where he returned last week and missed the cut.
?Wearing green, spiked snake-skin boots during the Volvo PGA.
?Styling in a sheer black Versace shirt at the Portuguese Open, prompting a rule against see-through clothing. "I respect the decision," Sandelin said. "Nobody wants to see my nipples, do they?"
Well, no. A better question is, Does anybody want to see the rest of him? Ready or not, U.S. fans may be in for a titillating visit. After finishing 23rd on the European money list in '98, Sandelin, 31, is eighth on the Ryder Cup points list and—Jerry Springer, take note—in line to meet O'Meara and the boys in Brookline, Mass., in September.
Sandelin—who was born in Finland, moved to Stockholm when he was seven and now lives in Monaco—has peeved a peck of golfers since taking up the game after a stint with the Swedish national junior minigolf team. He's still bitter about an exchange he had with Phil Mickelson at the '96 Dunhill Cup. Sandelin says Mickelson accused him of taking the match too seriously. Mickelson says Sandelin held his putter like a rifle and fired it. The two came face-to-face as they walked to the 13th tee with Sandelin ahead by four shots. "I told him to f—off?' Sandelin says. "I haven't spoken to him since and have no desire to do so."
Sandelin's tiffs have a way of running longer than his driver, which measures 52 inches. With ill will festering from the '97 Lanc�me, he irked Lee Westwood at the '98 Lanc�me. Sandelin's ball moved after he addressed a one-foot putt, and Westwood insisted that Sandelin take a penalty stroke. Sandelin said he never grounds his putter on tap-ins and therefore was in the clear. A rules official sided with Jarmo.
The next day Sandelin shot a 63, a round that he calls a turning point because he started to think more positively on the course. It was also a clear indication that Sandelin thrives on conflict. He plays his best late in the season, by which time he's usually blazed a trail with odd adventures and is well into a multipronged defense of himself.
Of his clothing, Sandelin said last week, "If I'm going to have clothing for my golf and different clothing for when I'm outside golf, it's too much luggage."