Jesper Parnevik drew some headlines recently when he told Golf Digest that Tiger Woods was “flushing everything.” That ramped up expectations on Woods and he eventually withdrew from the Safeway Open, saying his game was “vulnerable.”
Parnevik knows Tiger’s game well and has seen him at his best. As part of that Digest interview, the Swede described playing with Woods during the first two rounds of the 2000 U.S. Open, which Woods won by 15 strokes.
“After 36 holes, my caddie, Lance Ten Broeck, and I charted my rounds and Tiger's. We found he had not missed a single putt inside 20 feet,” Parnevik said. “The greens at Pebble are not great, even during a U.S. Open. A 20-footer will wiggle 10 ways before it gets to the hole. A putting robot would blow a fuse trying to make all those putts because the ball will behave differently every time. Tiger had an uncanny, zen-like way of anticipating those wiggles, filtering them through his subconscious and hitting the ball so the wiggles would even out and the putt would drop. I never saw anything that surpassed it until 2008.”
In 2008, Woods again won the U.S. Open, this time in more dramatic – than dominant – fashion, tying Rocco Mediate on the 72nd hole of regulation and eventually beating him over 19 holes in a playoff.
It was that playoff-inducing putt that everyone remembers so fondly, especially Parnevik.
“I had the same putt one hour earlier – same distance, same line. I played two inches of break, and the ball hardly broke,” Parnevik said. “When Tiger's ball left the putter, I saw he'd played a foot of break, which was way too much. But as Tiger stared at the ball, it moved – a lot – and fell in. That was some serious Uri Geller, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Force-like s***. I don't care what any scientist says, I'm convinced that Tiger's mind, not the slope of the green, caused that ball to move.”