Campbell cuts his losses; Golf

Down in Perth town centre, the Australians were getting a roasting from the West Indies. Up the Swan Valley at The Vines, the crucible of attention matched the 45-degree heat for a New Zealander, Michael Campbell.

On Friday, Campbell admitted purposely three-putting to miss the cut in a tournament during his miserable 1996 season. Mystery surrounds where exactly this might have happened, or indeed whether it happened at all. It was all other players could talk of, while faxes poured in from around the world seeking clarification.

Yesterday Campbell completed a level-par round in the third round of the Heineken Classic. Afterwards he was spoken to by John Paramor, the chief referee of the European tour. Then the damage limitation process began. "When I was talking about missing cuts it was what I was feeling but I did not deliberately do it," Campbell said. "The only tournament where I missed a cut by one stroke was at the PGA Championship and there is no way I would deliberately three-putt.

"I was down in the dumps last year. I was so negative and pessimistic. I realise I made a mistake. I am relying on sponsors' invitations this year and there's no way I'd think it again."

Paramor confirmed that no action would be taken against Campbell, who lost his card last year after collecting five top-four finishes, including the Open at St Andrews, in 1995. "Michael was a completely different person last year," his manager, Andrew Ramsey, said. "You couldn't talk to him."

Campbell finished seven shots behind Spain's Miguel Martin, whose concentration in the oppressive conditions is such that he has not made a bogey in three days. Martin shot a 65 to lead by three from Frank Nobilo, with Paul Eales, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington, the half-way leader, a shot further back.

A mere 24 shots behind Martin was John Daly. The American's inability to perform when being paid to be present has led to suggestions of Campbellesque behaviour. Yesterday he shot an 83. "When I get an appearance fee I'm damn sure I'll give 100 per cent," the American said. Having taken irons off the tee a year ago and finishing fifth, Daly gave in to the temptation to use his driver. on the back nine. At the 10th he drove behind a cactus plant and took a double-bogey seven.

At the par-5 last, Daly was left with a 141-yard pitch shot for his second. "I wanted to be the only man to shoot in the 80s and win A$500,000 for an albatross in the same day," Daly said. He found the water.

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