Parnevik overcomes injuries, doubt to finally win again
The Swede earned his first PGA TOUR Champions title at The Woodlands
May 08, 2016
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
- May 08, 2016
- Jesper Parnevik wore his signature pink pants for his Insperity Invitational win. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – He’s eclectic, eccentric and definitely entertaining.
A man with a distinct sense of style, a cutting edge approach to just about everything from up-turned bills on his visors and fedoras to pencil pants and. . . well, an entertaining take-no-prisoners approach to life. Jesper Parnevik once included volcanic sand as one of his major food groups, embraced his old nickname “Spaceman,” played himself in a movie and seldom passes on a good cigar.
He’s endured accidents, surgeries and long periods where taking six or seven months away from golf has become the norm and regular tournament schedules haven’t even crossed his mind. In fact, for the past two years, he – as well as his entire family – has been starring in a reality TV series called “The Parneviks.”
And, if all of that doesn’t get your attention, earlier this year, Parnevik added proud father to budding pop star Peg, aged 20, and her younger sister, Penny, who directed and co-produced Peg’s music video, “Ain’t No Saint,’’ to his burgeoning eclectic list.
Then Sunday afternoon Parnevik surprised even himself a bit by winning his first PGA TOUR Champions event – and his first event in 15 years, period – in a runaway win at the Insperity Invitational.
Down to Jeff Maggert after four holes, he birdied the ninth hole to take a two-shot lead over Mike Goodes and wound up winning by four shots over Maggert, Goodes and David Frost.
“It feels fantastic actually,’’ Parnevik said. “I’m still in shock. When it’s been this long, you don’t even remember how it is.’’
He did, however, remember that at his last win here in Texas – the 2000 Byron Nelson – he also wore pink pants. They used to be his Sunday signature, but he hadn’t pulled them out again until Sunday when he wore a pair of hot pink pants – in honor of the tournament’s Pink-Out promotion – and a white shirt.
“If you look back, the outfit will look exactly the same,’’ he said. “I made a lot of money with those pink pants before, so I might be out here again with them.’’
Meanwhile, all his wife Mia and four kids know is they’re booking a trip to Hawaii next January to the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Forget about the trophy, the Breitling watch, the $315,000 winner’s check and a semi-comeback/PGA TOUR Champions start.
“They don’t care if I win or lose or whatever,’’ he said with a chuckle. “They don’t even watch me play. Going to Hawaii is huge for them and it’s going to be a lot of fun.’’
It might even find its way into an episode of “The Parneviks,” which wrapped 10 episodes earlier this year.
“You never know,’’ he grinned.
You don’t, do you? It would have been easy to say out-of-sight, out-of-mind when looking at Parnevik’s name on the pairings this week. After all, he’s spent so much time overcoming injuries in the past few years – a Segway accident that left him with a broken rib and a near-career-ending right hand injury in a boating accident in 2012 when he almost severed his right index finger – to go with previous surgeries on his hip and other areas.
Fifteen years between wins, after all, is a long time out of the TOUR spotlight. And it felt like a lifetime.
“I thought I was never going to win again,’’ he said. “I pretty much thought not play again because a lot of times if I hit 15 balls, I could not get out of bed the next day, it was that bad. So I was not even contemplating winning. I mean, it was more thinking about if only I could just keep it going to come out here and enjoy it out here.
“But then all of a sudden, I get better and then – knock on wood – I have been feeling good ever since.’’
There was a point when he would seriously not hit a shot for six or seven months. “It almost becomes the norm, you know?’’ he said, “Six months isn’t really that big of a deal.’’
Meanwhile, he was watching Bernhard Langer throw out 61s and 62 to dominate the PGA TOUR Champions and wondering if he’d ever get the chance.
Yet all that, he said, was a blessing in disguise.
“I don’t know if I would have been as keen or as eager to play right now if I would have played those eight years full-time, because, you know, you see a lot of guys get a revival almost coming out here and they kick start their career and they think it’s fun again.’’
The irony is Parnevik didn’t think his form was all that great this week. But his body? He felt so good after Saturday’s round, he hit balls for an hour.
Still, he said, “I didn’t hit many shots this week that I was fully, fully confident.’’
Could have fooled the field.
“Jesper played good,’’ said Maggert, who was paired with him Saturday, too. “I thought he struggled a bit yesterday coming down the stretch, but he really hit the ball well all day. He putted well too.
“He made the ones he needed to, hit the ball close a lot, had a lot of little five-footers for birdie. On the other hand, I had a lot of 10, 15 and 18 footers. So that was the difference.’’
After Saturday’s round, Parnevik, who tied for 48th here last year, was laughing that it was good to have a few butterflies again.
He had them Sunday, too. He saved par at the par-5 15th after his second shot – out of the bunker – went over the cart part and into a ditch. But the butterflies were flapping even after taking a four-shot lead at the 16th.
“The butterflies got even bigger,’’ he said with a smile. “I was happy about the four-shot lead, but that tee shot on 17 is not a nice shot, you know.’’
And at the 18th tee? “There were still a lot of bad options possible when it comes to my scorecard, and I think for most places like that, you don’t really, really relax and take it for granted until it’s finally over.’’
When the final putt fell, he pulled off his visor and waved it at the crowd. Simple, gracious. A huge smile.
The victory cigar came later. It was about time.
Jesper Parnevik earns first career win in style at Insperity Invitational