Jesper Tries to Get an Edge - Any Edge
So here was Parnevik, getting ready for the final day at the 2000 Byron Nelson. Lets see, what to wear, what to wear? The black pants with the stovepipe legs ' naw. All white, perhaps, with stovepipe legs? Nope, again. OK, how about pink ' shocking pink with stovepipe legs? Bingo!
He was the pink panther, if you please. Before anyone could mount a protest, Parnevik had dispatched three of Americas finest ' Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Davis Love III. He did it in a three-hole playoff with Mickelson and Love. Mickelson sat down after the second playoff hole when he couldnt make birdie to match the other two. Then Love was dispatched on the third hole with a bogey while Parnevik was making an easy par. Chalk one up for the conservative gent in the ' pink pants?
It was so close all day, and you never really thought about winning, he said. You just try to stay in touch with the guys. I was always one behind, two behind, three behind, two behind.
I was just happy to get in the playoff in the end. Davis had a six- or seven-footer to win the tournament in regulation. It was a huge bonus.
Parnevik couldnt help but pull a little for Love, even though he was the opponent.
I mean, hes a great guy, Jesper says. Theres nothing really bad to say about him. Hes a great player, great guy. Hes always been nice to me ever since I came out on tour. Hes just a great guy.
The pink pants, however, were just part of the Jesper mystique. A Swedish pal, Johann Lindenberg, designs the clothes, as he does for another Tour player, Charles Howell. Parnevik has always been way out there close to the cusp, though he was much more of a character five or 10 years ago than he is today.
The story about the volcano dust has been told ad nauseam now ' he used to eat little scoops of it to help purify the body. He appeared on Swedish television to put his feet into a bathtub and sent 220 volts of electricity surging through the water and into his body, the idea being to get all the organs of the body working in harmony. Hes worn a device around his neck to protect against electromagnetic radiation.
Jesper had the fillings in his teeth replaced with a material which was said to prevent allergies. He wore battery-powered strobe-light glasses for 40 minutes at a time to help synchronize neural firings in both sides of the brain. He wore headphones which 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.
Most of the things youve heard about are things that Ive tried out in an attempt to improve my physique, my mental side and all that, he said. The results, if they are not what I thought they would be, I dont continue trying them. But I did pretty much all the time look for ways to stay ahead of the guys.
All that was the Jesper of years past. Hes a father now with four daughters ' Peg, Penny, Phillipa and Phoenix. Notice anything about names? Its a good thing the youngest wasnt a boy - Jesper toyed with the idea of naming him Per-Simon.
Hes 36 years old, and about the most radical thing hes into now is his vitamin company, LiFizz. The vitamins are mixed with water and drunk, rather than taken solid.
In Europe, its pretty much the way to take vitamins, he said. I grew up taking then that way. So I was just amazed when I came over here and it wasnt around. Were doing very well.
Its a little bit different when you endorse a product and when you start your own company with a product, because you have a little more pride when its your own product its my personal company, so its very close to me.
Parnevik is a streaky putter ' sometimes hes world-class, other times just unworldly. He isnt afraid to try something new. Many times he putts with something that someone has just designed, even though it may not look like a traditional putter. Other times, he just picks up one thats been in the shop for years.
He has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of putters.
The funny thing is that a few of the tournaments I have won, Ive picked the putter just sitting collecting dust in the garage somewhere. I look at it and I bring it to the tournament and I win, said Jesper.
Thats what I did at the Byron Nelson. The putter was just sitting in the back of a corner, and I just took it out before we went to the airplane and won the tournament. And, Im like a magnet to people who want to try different stuff. Everybody, it seems, has an invention they want me to try out. Some things actually are pretty good, and some are not very good at all.
He actually used four different putters in four days at the British Open a couple of years ago. Its a feel thing for me, said Parnevik. That could change day by day ' I dont know why. Its how it aims, how it sits when I set it down. Some putters can look really nice one day, and then I set it down the next day and it looks shut or open, and I dont know if someone is fooling around with my putter. Probably just me, I guess.
It was a confession that rings true somehow ' its probably just him. Just me, however, has done pretty well. Especially for a guy who wears pink pants.
Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.
She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.
It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.
Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.
"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”
Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.
Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.
Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.
“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.
“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”
The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.
“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”
Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.
He picked up his clubs three times.
That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.
This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.
Not that he was concerned, of course.
Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.
“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”
At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.
“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”
Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.
Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.
“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”
Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.
In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.
That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.
“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.
“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.
Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”
So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.
Despite results, Thomas loves links golf
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.
Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.
Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.
“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”
Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.
He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.
“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.
“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”