Whatever Happened to 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, and 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 was a joker, a wise guy and all round 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 major 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 around the world today. Either way,the symbiotic relationship worked, both prospered both on and off the course.
I miss Jesper. I really do, so I got to wondering, what’s he doing now?
Looking at the PGA Tour statistics for 2012, Parnevik finished…nowhere, well 256th in the FedEx Cup actually, earning only $10,340. A far cry from the $15 million he has earned on Tour, 69th in all time earnings.
However, there are reasons for this, Jesper’s body has finally reached 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 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-percent sure that I lost all the fingers. I was terrified”.
Jesper is 47 now, and his last win was the 2001 Honda Classic, and apart from taking a three shot lead into the final round of the Texas Open in 2007, hasn’t really contended in a almost a decade. He is only three years away from the Champions Tour, should he wish to join, though more pertinent is whether his body will let him. 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 that the enigmatic Swede can. If Jesper isn’t able to join then the Champions Tour will be poorer for it.
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 larger then 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 managed to play in the second qualifying round for the PGA Tour Q-School, he didn’t make it but there were signs he can still play. He still has a major 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.
To find out what Jesper is up to in 2013, please visit an updated post Whatever Happened to Jesper Parnevik – 2013 Update
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