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Lehman suffers two-stroke penalty for ball-marker error

July 18, 1997

TROON, Scotland (AP) _ Tom Lehman thought he’d been disqualified Friday from the British Open.

He wasn’t, but it was almost as bad for the defending champion.

Lehman picked up a triple-bogey seven on the second hole _ one of the easiest on the course _ when he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for failing to replace his ball marker.

He finished Friday with a 1-over 72 to put him 13 shots behind leader Darren Clarke.

Lehman moved the marker a club head’s length to get it out of the way for partner Vijay Singh _ and then forgot to return the marker to its original spot.

``I teed off on the next, then realized it. I thought `Shoot, I didn’t put my marker back’. I thought I’d be DQd and it would be an embarrassing walk in.″

``I’m mad at myself and my caddie. Ultimately the burden is on me to make sure that things are right. For two of us to miss that is nearly inexcusable.

``Even when you’re playing your very best you can’t usually afford to give two shots to anybody. Vijay felt bad. I said `It’s not your fault, it’s mine that it happened’.

``I’ve been pretty penalty-free in my whole career. I’ve never missed a starting time, never not signed a scorecard and never done any dumb things like that. I’m a little bit ticked off.″

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FALDO ENGAGED: Nick Faldo scolded a photographer taking pictures of his 23-year-old American lady friend and the gold ring she’s wearing on her wedding-ring finger.

``You’re here to take pictures of golf and nothing else,″ said Faldo, who reportedly prodded the photographer in the back with his putter.

``I’ll get you thrown out,″ Faldo added.

Faldo turned 40 Friday and speculation is widespread he’s about to marry Brenna Cepelak. Faldo left his second wife Gill two years ago, but the two have yet to settle a divorce.

Faldo, who was 2-over 144 after two rounds, declined to talk about the incident. ``I don’t know anything about that,″ he said.

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42 AND COUNTING: This is Gary Player’s 42nd straight British Open. And the 61-year-old South African is nearing the end.

``What I will actually do is call it a day after the open at St. Andrews in 2000,″ he said.

Player opened with a 78 but came back Friday with a par-71.

``I’ll be 64 then and even if I do decide to keep playing in tournaments, I won’t be in among the open competitors after that.″

Player is the only player in the 20th century to win the British Open in three different decades (1959, ’68 and ’74) and only one of four to win all four major championships.

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ODDS AND ENDS: American Christopher Perry and Japanese Yoshinori Kaneko and Joe Ozaki withdrew Friday. Perry shot 9-over 80 on Thursday but injured a thigh muscle. Kaneko shot 84 and dropped out with a back injury. Ozaki opened with a 76 and hurt his wrist.

Another Japanese should have dropped out. Nobuhito Sako shot an opening 85 and closed with 78. Of the opening round his caddie Simon Collins said, I’ve never heard `fore’ being shouted so many times in my life.″

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