Every Days a Sunny Day With Jesper

By George WhiteNovember 19, 2001, 5:00 pm
Theres something about Jesper Parnevik that you really cant put your finger on. Youre not certain that hes for real, and yet you know better than to laugh (out loud, anyway) at anothers ' shall we say ' different lifestyle.
Jesper will play in the Skins Game over Thanksgiving with Colin Montgomerie, Tiger Woods and Greg Norman ' whew, now theres a foursome! Jesper met the press recently via the telephone, and you could tell this was going to be a straight news conference. Of course, its hard to be anything but straight when the questions are all straight.
Yes, he said, he will be aggressive when the Skins is played. You will challenge most holes, and if you are out of the hole, it does not matter that much, he said. That is what makes it so unique, that you can go 110 percent on every shot and every hole.
Jesper, though, is the original free spirit on the tour. He lives life, well, unconventionally. He tries a number of antidotes and fixes that would be considered most unorthodox. He insists that he merely has an open mind and will try anything once. I tend to be just a little bit skeptical, but, hey ' he makes a million every year while I make a buck-29. So I am certainly not going to say hes grandstanding.
You know what Im talking about. The volcanic sand thing ' he spent a summer or two swallowing the granules that he bought specially-prepared. It was supposed to cleanse the system. There is so much stuff we would consider unnatural, but if someone of dubious authority recommends it, hes going to try it. Replacing the fillings in his teeth to alleviate the allergies; trying the new diet because someone peered deep into his eyes and told him he should; the unconventional advisors, including the Russian who claimed to have powers of ESP; the man who collected samples of Parneviks blood, then claimed to send healing frequencies over radio waves to reach Jesper; the eyeglasses equipped with flashing lights to help synchronize neural firings between the two hemispheres of the brain; and on and on, you get the picture.
What is not widely known among American audiences is that this man can really play. Arriving in the United States from his native Sweden in 1994, he has adapted remarkably well and just kept improving. He finished 120th on the money list that first year, then he got the hang of American-style golf and finished 84th, then 58th, then in 1997 he broke through all the way to 12th. This year, still recuperating from last years arthroscopic hip surgery, he finished 31st but still won a million and a half dollars.
Maybe its his fatherhood that has made him seem rather normal. He has three daughters now, each born roughly two years apart. They dont give out names right away in Sweden, so it took awhile for the girls to have proper monikers. But Peg came along first in 1995. Penny followed in 1997, followed by little Phillipa in 1999. The mom is named Mia, so forget her having a fondness for Ps in the name. Neither, for that fact, is Jesper.
Jesper is six feet tall and weighs just 175 pounds, so hes a rather angular fellow. And hes been wearing the clothes of a Swedish pal of his named J. Lindeberg. The fact that he looks like a pipe cleaner is beside the point. He has said goodbye to traditional colors and said hello to pinks, greens, different shades of red and all manner of blacks.
Expect to see something very Lindeberg-iun at the Skins. He has some great new outfits coming out next year, says Jesper. I am sure he will have something sorted out for me.
Hopefully, it will be pants and a shirt. Incidentally, he has Charles Howell wearing Lindeberg clothes, too. Howell is built along the same lines as Parnevik, except he is even skinnier ' 5-10 and just 158 pounds.
The Skins will be held in the Palm Springs area and Parnevik has won there already, at last year's Bob Hope. He also won under similar conditions at Phoenix. Theres something about golf in the desert that is a little linksy, says Parnevik, especially golf in the desert in late winter.
I am a links-type of player and it seems like those courses play like that, he said. You know, you can run the ball a lot and roll it up to the green. You have a lot of options. Some courses leave you one shot and that is pretty much it.
Jesper did his 25 minutes on the phone and left. When it was over, I thought of a hundred things I should have asked him. There isnt a better interview on the PGA Tour ' Parnevik is going to give you a forthright, honest answer, and theres always a little surprise somewhere in there.
Someday, of course, Jesper will be gone. Not this year or next year, but before you know it, golf fans will look around and notice hes missing. And when hes gone, Jesper says, you can just remember him this way ' I came, I saw, I yipped.
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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''