THE GOLDEN RULE
An old feud got a new twist at the Trophee Lancome
This is an article from the Sept. 28, 1998 issue
There is no more sumptuous tournament in the world than the
Trophee Lancome, 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 Trophee Lancome 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 Jimenez. When Jimenez hit a horrible
four-iron far left of the green on the 210-yard par-3 18th at
St. Nom la Breteche, the stage seemed set for a delicious playoff.
Then, with a jolt, the curtain came down. Jimenez 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, Jimenez 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
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
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.
Still, Sandelin looked troubled at Versailles. He admitted being
surprised and disturbed by how stubbornly Westwood had demanded a
penalty even after the accused had made his defense. "It's a
feeling I don't like," Sandelin said of being under suspicion.
In time that feeling may make him regret the way he treated
O'Meara. --Jaime Diaz
THE PERRY BOYS' 530TH WIN
Entering his 376th PGA Tour event, Chris Perry was 0 for 375. He
had three runner-up finishes but was a never-on-Sunday player
until last weekend at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., where
he topped Peter Jacobsen by three shots and Nolan Henke by four
to win the B.C. Open. So elated was Perry, who earned $270,000,
that he momentarily forgot his alphabet. "It doesn't matter if
it's the U.S. Open or the B.C. Open," he said. "A win is a win."
Perry had spent the day playing Houdini. "I'd see him in the
trees," said Henke, "then I'd see him put his hand up after he
made the putt for par." Escaping slippery situations may be in
the winner's genes. His uncle Gaylord, the Splendid Salivator,
is in baseball's Hall of Fame. Gaylord Perry won 314 games in 22
major league seasons. Chris's father, Jim, did some big league
pitching, too--215 wins' worth. On Sunday, lifting the gleaming
bronze B.C. Open trophy, a likeness of the comic character B.C.,
Chris remembered a chunk of hardware his dad brought home in
1970. "Hey," he said, "this thing weighs about as much as the Cy
THE SHAG BAG
Gates Crasher: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is reportedly
itching to join Augusta National but may not be invited because
he's a lousy golfer. The 42-year-old Gates, who sports an
unsightly 26 handicap, may have impressed CEOs John Reed of
Citicorp and Jack Welch of General Electric and billionaire
Warren Buffett--all Augusta members--with his Callaway ads, but
his loopy swing has its own Amen Corner.
Rose to the Occasion: Justin Rose, 18, who hasn't made a cut or
a shilling in his eight weeks on the European tour, needed a top
10 finish last week at Chart Hills Golf Club in Maidstone,
England, to qualify for the tour's upcoming Q school. In
Thursday's third and final round, Rose fired a five-under-par 67
to finish ninth.
Charity Classic: As he lined up a birdie putt on the 5th hole at
the Golf Center at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, last Sunday,
Harold Henning was nine under par and leading the Kroger Senior
Classic. Then a storm washed out Sunday's round. Henning, who
turns 64 next month, could have become the oldest champion in
Senior history; instead he settled for sixth, a shot behind
second-round coleaders Hugh Baiocchi, Bob Charles, Frank Conner,
Larry Nelson and Bruce Summerhays, who played off for the title.
A dejected Henning passed the hat around the locker room. "I got
an extra $50," he said. "There wasn't a dry eye in the house."
Baiocchi won the playoff for his second straight victory.
Mission Statement: "Golf owns you; it knows it, too," Johnny
Bench (above) said a bit weirdly after shooting a career-best 68
in the second round of the Kroger. "Golf is like a
missionary--it visits, then it leaves." Bench finished 56th and
has earned $4,022 in three Senior starts. "I idolize him," said
Chi Chi Rodriguez, who brought a baseball and glove to the
course after hearing he'd be paired with Bench.
Tag Team: European Solheim Cup captain Pia Nilsson arranged her
players alphabetically for the opening ceremonies. That put
frosty siblings Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam side by side.
"That's the closest the Sorenstam sisters have been in years,"
said an LPGA insider.
The Happy Couples: With 55 friends and family members in
attendance, Fred Couples wed Thais Bren on Sept. 12 in the
Couples couple's backyard in Brentwood, Calif.
Buy Her a Round: Se Ri Pak, the toast of Korea, turns 21 on
Two Sh-t Penalty: The Gastonia, N.C., city council has heard so
many complaints about profanity at Gastonia Municipal Golf
Course that the council has imposed an anticursing rule. Players
who cuss repeatedly will be kicked off the course.
Playing the Shell Game
The silly season is upon us, so it's time to tune in Shell's
Wonderful World of Golf. The series began in 1961, and after a
22-year hiatus from '72 to '94, Shell's made-for-TV duels are
celebrating the fifth anniversary of their resurrection. Next
week executive producer Terry Jastrow and his staff will be at
Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., filming a match between Justin
Leonard and Davis Love III. The real scrambling, however, will
occur 3,000 miles west, in Santa Monica, Calif., where editors
will be putting the finishing touches on Fred Couples versus
Ernie Els, the season's debut match, which was played on Aug. 17
at the Nicklaus North Course in Whistler, B.C., and airs on Oct.
6 on ESPN. How silly are such events to the players? "It's not
life-or-death," Els said after the match was filmed. "We joked
around a lot, but I still didn't want to lose."
ARNIE VS. PHILAMON
Thirty-five years ago Arnold Palmer was eyeing his fourth
straight Texas Open title and a place in history beside
venerable streakers Walter Hagen, who won four straight PGAs,
and Gene Sarazen, who won four Miami Opens in a row. Then along
came a portly 24-year-old whom one reporter described as "a
medicine ball on legs." Philamon Webster Rodgers--Phil for
short--outplayed Palmer to win at San Antonio's Oak Hills
Country Club that week. Young Rodgers's third Tour title earned
him comparisons with Jack Nicklaus, for whom he was often
mistaken. Today, Rodgers fly-fishes more than he plays golf, but
he entered this year's Utah Showdown and finished 59th. "I only
did it so I could say I played in my 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and
60s," says Rodgers, 60. He never won a major, but in the '80s he
helped his friend Nicklaus overhaul his short game, a major
achievement in itself.
Which golfer do you root against?
Colin Montgomerie 38%
Tiger Woods 27%
Fuzzy Zoeller 9%
Hale Irwin 7%
Greg Norman 7%
--Based on 2,508 responses to our informal survey.
Next question: Should the PGA Championship be held in the fall,
to keep players and fans interested in the latter part of the
season? To answer, go to www.cnnsi.com/golf.
Jim Furyk hasn't won a tournament since the '96 Hawaiian Open,
but his accountant isn't complaining. Seventh on the money list
with $1,452,544 through the B.C. Open, Furyk may soon break the
Tour record for earnings in a winless season--a record he set
last year. Here is how Furyk's '97 campaign compares with the
seasons of other successful nonwinners.
PLAYER MONEY RANK EARNINGS
Jack Burke Jr., '54 2 $20,214
Payne Stewart, '86 3 $535,389
Jim Furyk, '97 4 $1,619,480
Tom Kite, '88 5 $760,405
Fuzzy Zoeller, '94 5 $1,016,804
Bruce Devlin, '65 6 $67,658
Jerry Pate, '80 6 $222,976
Johnny Pott, '61 6 $33,268
Bill Rogers, '79 6 $230,500
Payne Stewart, '93 6 $982,875
Players who made the cut in all four majors this year--Fred
Couples, Ernie Els, Brad Faxon, John Huston, Phil Mickelson,
Mark O'Meara and Tiger Woods.
What do these players have in common?
They are the top three graduates of last year's Q school on the
PGA Tour money list. Verplank ranks 22nd, Hayes 49th and Friend