Jesper gets to grips

No holds barred as Swede checks the mirror image of his swing

Bob Warters's picture
Fri, 15 Feb 2002

Jesper gets to grips

A re-grip with his putter and a glance in the mirror was all it took for Jesper Parnevik to re-discover his touch and put him back on track to justify his controversial Ryder Cup selection.

The outrageous Swede has been suffering in recent weeks on the US Tour with some critics claiming that the in-form Jose Maria Olazabal be brought back into contention for a place in the team against the US in September.

Jesper - checked the mirror.
Then Parnevik started experimenting with his putter, with a complicated left-below-right grip. He also noticed when he glimpsed a reflection of himself in the mirror (as you do!) that he wasn’t turning his hips properly in the full shot backswing.

He made a couple of adjustments and the result was a tournament leading six under par 65 in the first round of the Nissan Open at Riviera, near Los Angeles.

"The way I was playing, it looked like it was going to be a long year, especially as I told my caddie I would keep playing until I won again."

He points his left index finger down the shaft of the putter and his right index finger over his left thumb, with his right thumb attached to his left wrist in a strange cack-handed fashion. But now he’s holing a lot of putts.

"Everything fell into place very nicely," says Parnevik, "The only problem was my left elbow brushed against my ribs on long putts, so now I take a deep breath to hold my stomach in,"

His other move was less obscure. Parnevik had hip surgery at the end of 2000 and is still trying to rotate his hips more in the backswing.

"It hit me in the hotel room when I walked by a mirror," he said. "I thought maybe I should concentrate more on that. Now my drives are straighter and 30 yards longer."

That’s golf for you. It takes only the tiniest adjustment to think you’ve found the secret to this game. I’m off to look in the mirror…

*Jose Maria Olazabal maintained his form with a 66 in the Nissan, with Luke Donald making another good start with a 68. Lee Westwood is two under par with Ed Fryatt. Paul McGinley is level par and Darren Clarke had a disappointing 74 after a long layoff.

*In South Africa, Justin Rose is neck and neck with fellow Order of Merit challenger Tim Clarke after an opening 69 in the Tour Championship at Leopard Creek. Bradford Vaughan leads with 65.