Parnevik has broken vertebrae, career in jeopardy

February 10, 2010
Staff and Wire Reports

Jesper Parnevik said Wednesday that he may have to quit golf because of a broken vertebrae in his lower back.

Parnevik, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that doctors said he might need to have joint fusion surgery, "which means I can't play anymore."

The paper reported Wednesday that the 44-year-old Swedish golfer had emergency back surgery on Monday that would keep him from playing for at least a month.

When reached by PGATOUR.COM, Parnevik said that he is holding out hope he can avoid the operation and return to playing later this year.

"My intention is not to quit golf," said Parnevik, who will visit a physiotherapist in Detroit next week in a last-ditch attempt to prolong his career. "It's a bad injury, but it doesn't have to be career ending."

Parnevik added that his recent hip injuries masked the fracture in his back every time he had an MRI performed. But in a trip to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo., for hip surgery on Monday, a spinal specialist was called in and a C.A.T. scan was ordered. The results revealed the fracture in his L5 vertebrae.

Fusion surgery would eliminate the pain, Parnevik said, but it would also limit his range of motion enough that continuing to play golf for a living would not be possible. Back problems forced Parnevik to withdraw from the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles last week, despite an opening-round 68.

"I was hoping this could be my comeback year and that I could get the injuries taken care of. Each tournament I played [the pain] got worse and worse."

Parnevik finished second in the 1994 British Open and is considered one of Sweden's greatest golfers. He had surgery on his right hip last year and did not play a tournament until q-school in December, when he withdrew before the six rounds were over because he wasn't ready.

This season, Parnevik, who made headlines by expressing outrage when allegations of Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs were revealed in December, played in three tournaments, missing the cut in all of them, before he withdrew at Riviera.

"I hate playing bad golf, so I would hit more and more balls," Parnevik said. "Looking back on it, that probably wasn't a smart decision. I'll have to hope for a miracle if there's going to be any more competitive golf."

PGATOUR.COM's Brian Wacker contributed to this report.