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SPORTS WEEKEND | GOLF / THOMAS BONK

Parnevik a Bit Off, but He's a Winner

April 30, 1999|THOMAS BONK

We know all about Jesper Parnevik, the Swedish Spaceman, who lost the 1994 British Open because he had no clue what was happening since he never checked the leaderboard and lost in '97 when he wore Popsicle purple pants, a too-tight shirt and played the last six holes more like somebody who showed up to paint your house than a major championship winner.

Anyway, given his penchant for producing the unexpected, leave it to Parnevik to figure out a way to win a golf tournament in a decidedly peculiar fashion.

He hit only five fairways Sunday and still won his second PGA Tour event, the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic, with a tournament-record 23 under par.

For the week, Parnevik was in the fairway about as often as a cart path.

He hit 30 of 56 fairways, or 56%. How bad is that? Well, 56% would put him 179th on the PGA Tour this year.

On the 14th hole Sunday, his tee shot went 70 yards off line. His ball hit a tree or it would have flown over a house, but it bounced back onto the course instead.

It was a momentous moment, Parnevik said.

"That was the wildest tee shot I've ever hit," he said.

To make up for some truly terrible driving, Parnevik was first in putting (he needed only 99 putts) and was tied for second in greens in regulation.

CADDIE SACK

Thus ended what could only be called a true Parnevikian week for the 34-year-old, who until last Sunday was still one victory short of Gabriel Hjertstedt as top Swede on the PGA Tour.

The Friday before, at the MCI Classic, Parnevik got himself disqualified after he brushed some sand off the green with his glove.

Now, there are two weird aspects to this event:

1. Parnevik found out that you can brush sand off the green with your glove as long as your hand is in it at the time.

2. Parnevik found out that his caddie, Loren Duncan, confirmed the glove incident to a rules official.

Parnevik already had left the scorer's tent, so when he was assessed a two-shot penalty, he wound up being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Last week at Greensboro, Parnevik had a new caddie--former PGA Tour pro Lance Ten Broeck. It was Ten Broeck's first tour victory, caddie or otherwise.

BE LIKE JOSE

Want a sand wedge just like the one Jose Maria Olazabal used to win the Masters? Well, lucky you, here's your chance.

MacGregor Golf is selling a limited number of Olazabal sand wedges next month that are forged and hand ground in MacGregor's custom shop in Albany, Ga., to the exact specifications (56-degree loft, 35.75-inch length) of the wedge Olazabal used in his victory at Augusta National.

The cost? It's $149.99.

Of course, the wedge also fits the exact specifications of the one Olazabal used to miss the cut last week at the Spanish Open.

GARCIA, PART I

Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old Spaniard who turned pro after the Masters, finished tied for 25th in his professional debut at the Spanish Open.

Garcia, who made $8,426, will play his first PGA Tour event as a pro at the GTE Byron Nelson Classic, May 13-16, at Irving, Texas.

SENIOR PLAY

Question: Just how tough is the Senior PGA Tour?

Answer: Not very.

The dominant player this year is Bruce Fleisher, who won one tournament in 27 years on the PGA Tour.

Then almost as soon as the candles are out on his 50th birthday cake, he plays seven senior events and wins three of them.

Go figure. Fleisher also has two seconds and a third this year and leads the money list.

In seven weeks of senior golf, Fleisher has won $827,550.

In 27 years on the PGA Tour, Fleisher won $1.49 million.

Meanwhile, what's wrong with Hale Irwin? The two-time senior tour money leader is only No. 24 on the money list this year.

If he's pointing fingers, he can start with his putting. Irwin is averaging more than two putts a round more this year than last year (29.94 putts to 27.90).

SHARK SIGHTING

For anyone who still feels sorry for Greg Norman . . . don't.

He might have lost at the Masters again, but he remains knee-deep in money. On Tuesday, Norman opened his newest golf course project, a $10-million endeavor he designed next to the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, called The Creeks at Beechwood.

It's Norman's ninth course in the United States.

CALL SPARKLETTS

More than 130 million gallons of water were pumped off the Southern Trace Country Club course at the Nike Tour event in Shreveport, La., after heavy rain caused a nearby lake to overflow.

Instead of courtesy cars, players were assigned bass boats.

FUN WITH MATH

You figure out if this means anything or not:

* David Duval has played in 121 PGA Tour events (not counting the 11 he played while on the Nike Tour) and has won 11, which gives him a winning percentage of 9%.

* Tiger Woods has played 59 PGA Tour events as a pro and won eight times, a winning percentage of 13.6%.

* Jack Nicklaus has played 549 PGA Tour events and won 70, a winning percentage of 12.8%.

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