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Whatever Happened to Jesper Parnevik

11 July 2024

Whatever Happened to Jesper Parnevik by Lets Talk Golf

He was eating volcanic rock adverts under his peaked cap and bringing about the downfall of Tiger Woods through the introduction of his au pair, Elin Nordegren. Whatever happened to Jesper Parnevik?

jesper parnevik

Four European Tour titles, five wins on the PGA Tour, three Ryder Cups and twice runner-up at The Open. I used to enjoy hearing about the eccentric tales of Jesper. I loved watching Jesper’s compact swing, his habit of keeping a tee tucked into his cap and his wise and weathered face that displayed an expression that suggested he was either very annoyed or smirking at a dirty joke, which is no surprise considering his dad is a comedian.

Jesper’s personality

Jesper was a joker, a wise guy, and an all-around character on whatever Tour he was playing and in whatever tournament he was playing at. His distinctive clothing style raised eyebrows, but the bright colours and pastel-coloured pants raised the corners of mouths, too.

His unique persona helped promote J. Lindeberg into a significant golf clothing supplier. Or was it that J. Lindeberg had found a perfect clothes horse to display the garish colours and styles that would become the norm for golf fashionistas worldwide today? Either way, the symbiotic relationship worked and prospered on and off the course.

I miss Jesper. I do, so I wondered, what’s he doing now?

PGA Tour

Looking at the PGA Tour statistics for 2012, Parnevik finished…nowhere. Well, 256th in the FedEx Cup, earning only $10,340. This is a far cry from the $15 million he has earned on Tour, which ranks him 69th in all-time earnings.

However, there are reasons for this; Jesper’s body has finally reached a breaking point. No amount of eating volcanic rock – to supplement his diet – can repair the damage to his hips. The hip operation in 2000 and another one in 2009 won’t make Jesper’s return to golf any easier, nor will the broken bone in his back curtailing his golf in 2010. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, early in 2012, Parnevik managed to sever his finger whilst lifting his boat out of the water, an injury that nearly ended his golfing career and prompted the phlegmatic-looking Swede to think he’d lost more than a few fingers, stating “I was 100-per cent sure that I lost all the fingers. I was terrified”.

Jesper is 47 now, and his last win was the 2001 Honda Classic. Apart from taking a three-shot lead into the final round of the Texas Open in 2007, he hasn’t contended in almost a decade. He is only three years away from the Champions Tour, should he wish to join, though whether his body will let him is more pertinent. He’d be a tremendous asset, even on a Champions Tour buoyed by recent arrivals such as Tom Lehman, Bernhard Langer, Mark Calcavecchia, David Frost, Mark O’Meara, Corey Pavin and Fred Couples. But none of these bring as much style and charisma as the enigmatic Swede can. If Jesper can’t join the Champions Tour, it will be poorer.

Jesper is original

The truth is, Jesper, the man, never went anywhere. He’s still distinctively original, even when joining a long list of those parodying the surprisingly popular Gangnam Style by South Korean pop star PSY. As a Parnevik fan, this has to be seen to be believed. Jesper recruited some famous golfing friends wearing wigs, brought his own family in and ultimately sported ridiculously oversized sunglasses and a pink suit (see, he never got rid of those famous pink pants!) to entertain and remind us Jesper is still more prominent than life.

Jesper is a marketing executive’s dream; his quirkiness, the fact that he named his children after aspects of his profession, and his desert-dry humour make him an engaging personality. I’m sure he’ll have no end of offers and endorsements heading his way.

But before we write off Jesper’s golfing career, he still played in the second qualifying round for the PGA Tour Q-School. He didn’t make it, but there were signs he could still play. He still has a significant medical exemption for the forthcoming PGA Tour season, which means 12 more tournaments in 2013. I hope he makes it happen too, maybe just once, a final hurrah burning brighter than the victory cigar he used to light up on the 18th hole when on the verge of victory.

I miss Jesper!

Update:

As of 21st June 2013

At the start of the year, Jesper joined the team at Cobra-Puma, alongside Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter, in their high-profile media adverts. Jesper has failed to perform to the standards set by either Poulter or Fowler and has managed to make it through to a Sunday twice this season.

Jesper is playing on a medical exemption for the 2013 PGA Tour season. He will have 12 events this season to earn $620,087, which, coupled with 2012 earnings of $10,340, would equal No. 125 on the 2012 money list.

So far, he has played in 9 tournaments and earned just $49,241. This means he needs to play in at least three tournaments (plus any sponsors’ invites) to accrue some $570,846, and if he does it, this would be one of his biggest achievements.

His best finish of tied 51st at the Northern Trust Open in February earned him just $15,444, ultimately disappointing after two opening rounds of 70 followed by weekend scoring of 74, 73. Since then, he hasn’t shot a below-par round in the next six tournaments.

A quick overview of his season so far illustrates his scoring struggles:

20.01.13 Humana Challenge 67-73-69 (-7) CUT
03.02.13 Waste Management Phoenix Open 70-73 (+1) CUT
17.02.13 Northern Trust Open 70-70-74-73 (+3) T51th $15,444.00
03.03.13 The Honda Classic 72-76 (+8) CUT
17.03.13 Tampa Bay Championship 72-72-72-77 (+9) 74th $10,560.00
21.04.13 RBC Heritage 72-72-73 (+4) T78th $10,440.00
28.04.13 Zurich Classic of New Orleans 72 W/D
05.05.13 Wells Fargo Championship 72-75 (+3) CUT
19.05.13 HP Byron Nelson Championship 70-70-72 (+2) T73 $12,797.00

His best round of the year was a 67 at the Humana Challenge, his first round at his first tournament, but this promise quickly faded as he went on to miss the cut. The story all season has been a nearly promising start that fades away either finishing well down the field or missing the cut entirely.

Jesper has been in a group hovering on the cut mark three times, which means a secondary Saturday cut is being implemented. Three times, he’s failed to get through to Sunday.

His performance at the RBC Heritage best illustrated this when Jesper had a putt on the 36th green of no more than five feet, which would have meant a whole weekend of play. It turns out Jesper missed the put, meaning a staggering 91 players cut, 21 more than would have if Jesper had holed the putt.

Jesper Parnevik’s missed five-footer on the 18th hole had shifted the cut line to 2-over, and after the round, to his credit, and epitomising his sense of humour, @JesperParnevik tweeted,

“Everybody in the field at +2, put your envelopes in my locker…”

Injured again

Injury struck again while playing in the Zurich Classic, forcing Jesper to withdraw due to a back injury. His back injury is now a footnote to the various stresses his body has suffered in recent years, including a hip operation, a broken bone in his back, and a freak motorboat finger injury.

Meanwhile, his latest tournament entry was the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he settled for a share of 71st place at 2-over-par with rounds of 70, 70, and 72, missing a Sunday finish by just one shot.

Tour stats

Ironically, if you look at his tour stats, it’s not putting that’s the problem. He ranks 13th in Strokes Gained Putting, but that once efficient, clipped swing doesn’t give him any advantage on the tee anymore, as he ranks 185th in Total Driving and 186th in Greens In Regulation.

As of June 16th, Jesper is 1212th in the official golf rankings. At the start of the year, he was ranked 1404 and reached a year-high of 1178 after the Northern Trust Open before drifting out of the top 1200.

Whatever happens in the next three starts, Jesper Parnevik continues to attract more interest in golf than most. Let’s hope he can shine some light on possibly his final season on tour. He might need just one great week with a smooth putting stroke still in his locker.

To find out more, follow Jesper’s Twitter @JesperParnevik.

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