That is Jesper Parnevik. His mind is so open, you would need a ton of bricks to close it. Some people laugh at the comical things he does. Jesper doesn't mind. If he thinks it will help his body be enlightened, he'll do it. If he thinks it will help him become a better golfer, he'll try it. Does it sound hilarious to us? Possibly. But Parnevik isn't out to be a product of the masses. He is out to be healthier, fitter - and by the way, a better golfer.
Which is why he didn't summarily brush off the putter when the guy (he doesn't remember his name) offered it to him the day before the Honda began. He dropped a few balls and rolled it a time or two. It looked like a silhouette of a 1950s guy with a ducktail haircut. Jesper said 'thanks' and he continued rolling it.
Come Thursday in the opening round of the Honda, he was thinking he was onto something. Come Sunday evening, he was sure of it.
That's not unlike his new practice-putting device. Invented by 'this English guy,' Parnevik has been using the 'Zen Oracle' for a month or so. It's a doughnut-shaped instrument on a shaft. The ball is placed in the circle. 'You make a normal stroke and then you kind of release the ball towards the hole - but it's stuck inside the putter,' he said.
'It's amazing the feel you get with it. It's helped me a lot. It's hard to explain the feeling of it, but all the other pros that have tried it on the putting green are amazed. They come up to me and say, 'What is that?' And they try it and it's just amazing the feel you get.'
Parnevik hasn't putted this well 'in six or seven months.' And it's all because he has listened. Some players have closed minds. If they don't get paid to endorse it, they aren't going to use it. Jesper will try it, and if he thinks it has merit, he'll go with it.
That's what he does to his body. If he comes across an idea that sounds plausible, he will try it. Most of them don't really work, he'll be the first to admit. But he will try them out.
He's tried so many things in the past decade. In his native Sweden, he went on television to put his feet in a bathtub and send 220 volts of electricity surging through the water and into his body. The idea was to get all the organs of his body working in harmony.
He's worn a device around his neck to protect against electromagnetic radiation that abounds in televisions, radios and cell phones. He had the fillings in his teeth replaced with a material that is said to prevent allergies. He wore battery-powered strobe-light glasses to help synchronize neural firings in both sides of the brain. He wore headphones that produced eerie sounds for the same reason. And he allowed a man to collect samples of his blood to reverse the electronic frequencies of any harmful elements, transmitting the healing frequencies around the world to Parnevik with radio waves.
In his most famous gig, he ate volcanic sand. Yes, sand. It was to cleanse the body. Admittedly, it didn't work so he gave up on the year-long experiment. That's the story with most of the schemes he has been involved with. Most don't work. But he has at least tried, and the body is none the worse for it.
'Most of the things that you've heard about are things that I've tried out in an attempt to improve my physique, my mental side and all that. The result is if they are not what I thought they would do, I don't keep doing them,' said Parnevik.
'But I try pretty much all the time to look for ways to stay ahead of the other guys, if you can put it that way.'
And so Jesper, because of his fame and his off-beat reputation, gets quite a lot of nuts and kooks after him, as well as the sincere gent or two. He concedes that, although most are sincere, their ideas contained a basic flaw which made them useless. But because he is so adventurous, people contact him first with any new theory they might have on human neurology or anatomy or electricity.
'I'm a magnet to people like that,' agrees Parnevik. 'It seems like, you know, if they have a funny idea or a strange idea or new method or something, they come to me first and ask me if I want to try it out. Usually I do try it out.'
Of course, success is varied, all the way from the ridiculous to the brilliant. One of Jesper's most successful stunts was the manner in which he wears the bill of his cap. He originally flipped it up simply to get more sun on his face. But in so doing, he realized he could see the line much better. He's been doing it for nine years now.
Just like the unusual-looking putter that he used at Honda. Weird designs usually don't last too long. Look at the omelet-pan putter Jack Nicklaus used in winning the 1986 Masters, or 'the Thing,' the tiny-headed putter Paul Azinger wielded while winning the Tour Championship in 1992. This one will probably go by the wayside in a few weeks, too. But not before it was responsible for a win.
'I don't know what it is,' Parnevik said. 'First time I put it down, it felt like, 'Wow, I can see where I'm aiming.'
'You know, I don't know what it is, sometimes you put a putter down and it feels perfect. It feels like you can aim it and stroke it wherever you are aiming.
'It was just that this one felt pretty good or - I don't know how - it must be something to do with the eyes or the vision down looking at it. Because sometimes you can grab someone else's putter and you cannot understand how they can putt with it because it looks like it's aiming way left or something like that. This was just perfect.
'I also know that could change next week.'
Right. Jesper Parnevik is simply smarter than most of us. He takes the ideas of the entire world and puts them into practical use. The ones he likes, he keeps. The ones he dislikes, he discards. His bank account would suggest that the ones he discards haven't hurt him. The ones he has kept have been a financial success. And all of them, rejects as well as keepers have given us something to wonder about. Or, at worst, something to laugh about.
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