Jesper Back - Thanks to the Basket

By George WhiteJanuary 20, 2004, 5:00 pm
He should be easy to spot ' he will be the man on the practice range with an empty ball basket placed strategically behind him. But Jesper Parnevik always was easy to spot, with pants and shirt that look like they were painted on him. And dont make me tell the story of the crazy upturned cap bill again ' please.
Jesper has been MIA for the better part of two years now, up until last week when he magically re-appeared at the Sony Open with a tie for 15th. Back in 2000, he finished eighth on the tour money list. But that was followed by three years when he steadily cratered, punctuated by last season when was down at 118th.
You know, said Parnevik, I have a clue where the golf ball is going for a change. I haven't really had a clue the last two years. It's nice to be able to hit shots and trust it I feel like I'm just back to where I was a few years ago.
He had hip surgery back in 2001, and bad swing habits gradually crept into what was always a quick whip-whip action. He never could figure out what exactly was the problem. But recently he noticed Vijay Singh at his second home - on the range. And he noticed a pole that Vijay had placed behind his right shoulder, forcing him to swing around it to hit the ball.
I did my own version of it, said Parnevik. I just put a big basket behind there and kept hitting, because it felt like when I got my hip problem that I started collapsing the left side. So my club starting getting way stuck inside.
And just having the basket there makes me keep the club in front of me all the time. So I've just been hitting thousands and thousands of balls that way. I'm hitting a nice cut now again.
At first, he repeatedly whacked the basket on his backswing. That action often happens when the club gets too far inside. But the basket eventually paid dividends in his first round of the year. Parnevik shot a 65 at Sony, followed it up with a pair of 68s and a 70, and won $76,800.
He remembered the 2002 Ryder Cup, the point when his psyche was at an all-time low. European captain Sam Torrance was wondering what to do with Jesper, who had played magnificently in a couple of previous appearances. Now Torrance was in a quandary about where he should play Parnevik. Parnevik sensed the reluctance to set him down ' and addressed it.
I was playing so bad. And Sam kind of held me off for a while. I actually told him, I'm playing really (badly), so you don't have to pick me, put me in the lineup, said Jesper.
There was no way he could slink out of there and go home - he had to at least play in the singles. And as luck would have in, he drew the No. 1 player in the world.
There I am, I have no idea where the ball was going, he said. I was putting terrible. To be thrown in with Tiger in the last group in the last day, I just said, Wow, this could be over after ten holes.
It wasnt, of course. Parnevik shocked the golf world by repeatedly squiring off the hook, eventually gaining a tie with Tiger. I just fought for my life out there, he said. I have no idea how I did that.
Neither did anyone else, least of all Woods. And that might have been an upswing to what would happen in 2003. But - it wasnt.
It (his game) was never consistent enough to give me any confidence, because I would hit three great shots, and then one would go off flying and I would have no clue why I did it, he said.
That obviously is not the way to play the PGA Tour. He struggled fitfully all last year, occasionally seeing a brief bit of the old magic come back, but usually just feeling somewhat adrift. Then he happened on Singh and the unusual backswing apparatus, and he feels he finally is on the right track.
But then, you have a little bit of the confidence issue, as well, he cautioned. I'm feeling pretty confident now, but it's not really 100 percent yet because you still have some doubts from when you played bad for a couple of years. It's pretty hard to be 100 percent confident straightaway. It's getting there, definitely.
Parnevik will try for the second time this year at a comfortable old spot this week, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He won there in 2000. He returns in 2004 with the same pants, the same shirt, the same upturned bill on his cap. One thing that will be different, though ' the empty ball basket behind him of the driving range.
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If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''