Jesper Parnevik has made a quiet start to the PGA Tour season, but he has a pretty good excuse for his mediocre form.
During the Bob Hope Classic in January, Parnevik broke the middle finger in his left hand in bizarre circumstances when he tripped over a suitcase in his hotel room.
“One of my kids had a nightmare, we had adjoining rooms, and I ran in there at two in the morning, tripped on a suitcase and fell and smashed my finger,” he revealed yesterday after a three-under-par 68 in the opening round at the PODS Championship in Florida.
“They put it back in place, but it’s still huge. They said it might take six or seven month to really go down, so we will see. When I’m on the course, it’s not that bad. It’s mostly the first bucket warming up.”
Parnevik missed the cut at the Bob Hope, and at his next three events, but his stock has since moved in the right direction, and he welcomed yesterday’s impressive round, which left him three shots off the lead at the tough Innisbrook course.
The Swede, who turned 42 on Wednesday, was a world-class player through the 1990s and into the new century, twice finishing second at The Open and playing on three European Ryder Cup teams.
However, he has not won since the 2001 Honda Classic, and he traces his decline to hip surgery the previous September.
“I played too long with a hip injury and started hooking the ball so badly there for a while,” he said.
“Even though I won four or five months after the surgery, it was not pretty. I really haven’t got back into the feel of driving it the way I was earlier but, once in a while, they do go straight and then I can play well.”
Parnevik was a trailblazer for his country, the first Swede to post multiple victories – five so far – on the PGA Tour, and he is now one of eight Swedes with Tour membership.
“He led the way for Swedes to travel the world, come over here,” said compatriot Daniel Chopra, who lies joint second in Tampa Bay, two shots behind first-round leader Cliff Kresge.
“He was just about the first at everything, so a lot of guys believe they can come over here and play well successfully.”