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Golf: Lane's Swiss miss has put Nick on a roll; BARRY LEFT HIGH AND DRY.

Byline: CALLUM FOSTER

NICK Faldo is still on course to partner Justin Rose in golf's World Cup in December - thanks to a tree high up in the Swiss Alps.

Barry Lane's quadruple bogey seven at the 16th of his final round in the Omega European Masters had implications far beyond the tournament itself.

The 42-year-old, who had led with 10 holes to play, would have finished joint second behind Swede Robert Karlsson if he had parred the hole, but instead he crashed to joint 13th.

And that keeps Faldo - joint 18th after a closing round in which he did not have a single birdie - ahead in the race to travel with Rose to Mexico just before Christmas.

It made good television viewing when Lane's tee shot got stuck up the tree, but for him it was a costly business.

European tour referee John Paramor came up with a pair of binoculars for Lane to try to see the ball.

And when that did not work Joey Jones, a caddie who was watching at the time, clambered up the trunk and then ventured into the branches Tarzan-like in a valiant and daring attempt to help.

It was all to no avail, though, and when Lane went back to the tee he clattered into the tree again and, while the ball came down this time, he took four more shots to hole out.

His was not the only comedy of errors.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, two behind with five holes to go, hit a six-iron into a lake at the long 14th, took six and then followed up with two more bogeys.

Lawrie still finished joint second with South African Trevor Immelman, but Karlsson had a far easier run to the line than he could have expected - and could even afford to bogey the last two holes and win by four.

Lawrie's performance should secure him a World Cup recall - with Colin Montgomerie if he chooses to play and his troublesome back allows him to - but Faldo and Lane are not the only ones fighting to represent England.

John Bickerton and Gary Evans are in there scrapping too and with a first prize of around pounds 300,000 at this week's German Masters there could yet be a late dash from someone else.

While Faldo was pleased to stay in pole position, his failure to build on his opening 66 at Crans-sur-Sierre meant he stayed 21st on the Order of Merit.

And that is important because only the top 20 this coming Sunday qualify for next week's American Express world championship in Ireland - after which the World Cup sides are determined.

The player immediately in front of Faldo blocking his path is Darren Clarke and the gap is pounds 15,000. Yet the money on offer in Cologne can change everything.

But most interest there, of course, will be on how the Ryder Cup players on view perform.

Sergio Garcia's victory in Korea was a tonic, but he and Clarke are the only members of Sam Torrance's side to win this season.

And that is not a happy state of affairs with the match at The Belfry only two weeks away now.

Karlsson, meanwhile, dedicated the fifth win of his tour career to his former psychologist Bengt Stern, who died last Friday.

"He has been a very important person in my career," said the 33-year-old, whose quest to fulfil his potential has included a month-long fast and body psychotherapy sessions in which he talked about himself while putting his body through contortions.

CAPTION(S):

TREE-IFFIC: World Cup place beckons for Nick Faldo; PARTNER: Justin Rose
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2002
Words:602
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