Jespers Greatest Talent - Hes Not Opposed to Listening
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.
What do you think of Jesper's style?
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Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title
STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.
Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?
The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.
“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.
Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.
“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”
Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.
Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.
“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”
After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.
And the Wildcats better rest up.
Alabama looks unstoppable.
“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”
Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.
After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.
They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.
Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.
“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”
They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.
“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”
That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.
The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.
“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.
It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”
Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.
They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.
Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.
“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”
Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.
Pairings, tee times set for championship match
STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.
Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.
“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”
Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.
Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.
Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.
“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.
Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)
3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)
3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)
3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)
3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)
4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)
Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama
STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.
Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.
Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.
Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.
Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.
Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.
“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.
Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.
- Finals: Alabama vs. Arizona
- Semifinals: Alabama def. USC, 3.5-1.5
- Semifinals: Arizona def. Stanford, 4-1
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)