Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - With Guy Yo­com

Go­ing naked at the Ry­der Cup, his cure for the yips, and the value of a group scream.

Ry­der cup at valder­rama, 1997. I’m play­ing with Ig­na­cio Gar­rido against Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard.We’re all square play­ing the 17th hole, a par 5, and the Amer­i­cans are on in two. I’m play­ing our third from the fair­way. I’m star­ing at a tough pin, wa­ter fronts the green, I’ve got a down­hill lie, and I’m ner­vous as can be. I’m mak­ing a mil­lion prac­tice swings, try­ing to find a swing to fit the shot. Just as I set­tle over the ball, I hear a voice yell, “Jes­per, stop! Don’t hit!” I look up, and there’s Seve Balles­teros, our cap­tain, run­ning down the hill to­wards me, wav­ing his arms.Alarmed, I step away.“What is it, Seve?” I ask. He replies, “I just want to say, don’t hit it in the wa­ter.” Can you imag­ine some­one say­ing such a thing? Seve was a chaotic cap­tain. He was all over the golf course, con­stantly ad­vis­ing play­ers, some­times to ex­cess.At one point Colin Mont­gomerie told him,“Seve, I’ve got this.” But Seve also was in­spi­ra­tional, our Arnold Palmer, and for some rea­son, ev­ery un­usual thing he did turned out per­fectly.That shot he told me not to hit in the wa­ter? I wedged it close, and we ended up halv­ing the hole, and the match. the first time I played against Seve was also the first week I turned the bill of my cap up so it wouldn’t dis­tract me while I was putting. It was at Mal­lorca in Spain, and we got into a play­off.At least five times I had Seve beat. He would snap-hook his drive, gouge it out to 40 yards short of the green, pitch it to 15 feet and then make it. Mean­while, I’d hit it to 20 feet for birdie and then miss the putt. On the sixth hole, he beat me.

at the 1994 open at turn­berry, I had the lead go­ing into the back nine on Sun­day and made a point of not watch­ing the leader board. It was only my sec­ond Open, and I was in a zone. I was afraid that if I saw where I stood, there was a good chance I’d get too care­ful and tighten up. So I de­cided to put my head down, play as ag­gres­sively as I could, and see where it took me. It worked, be­cause I birdied five holes on the back nine to take a three-stroke lead and led by two play­ing the last hole. I bo­geyed the 18th, com­ing up short of the green with my sec­ond and leav­ing my­self with a tough chip that I didn’t get up and down.As I signed my score­card, I watched as Nick Price ea­gled the 17th. He then parred the last to beat me by one. It turned out to be my best chance at a ma­jor. Should I have looked at the leader board? Maybe, be­cause I then would have aimed at the fat part of the green. On the other hand, if I’d looked, my in­ex­pe­ri­ence might have led to me get­ting too cau­tious and robbed me of the good chance I had go­ing down the last.And if I’d hit it on the green but a long way from the hole, I might have three-putted, which would have been even more painful.You just never know. So, no re­grets. a jour­ney­man player on the PGA Tour had a great chance to win the Masters but shot some­thing like 78 in the fi­nal round and lost.When a re­porter asked him what he would have done dif­fer­ently, he said,“I could not have shot one shot bet­ter.” What a great an­swer. Ob­vi­ously he tried on ev­ery shot. He did the ab­so­lute best with what he had at the time. Now, would he play dif­fer­ently next time? Per­haps, be­cause he’d have more ex­pe­ri­ence. But at the mo­ment, 78 was the best he could do. play­ing the cham­pi­ons tour and win­ning the Insper­ity Clas­sic in May last year was harder than it looked. I’ve had hip surg­eries, a bro­ken back and then sci­at­ica. I’ve had a neck in­jury and torn lig­a­ments in my hand.These were the nor­mal in­juries. Then there was the dumb, self-im­posed stuff. I broke my toe in a col­li­sion with a case of beer.Al­most cut a fin­ger off winch­ing our boat. Slammed my fin­gers in a car door – the door closed all the way and locked on that one – and another time I broke some ribs mess­ing around on a Seg­way. I came close to break­ing my wrist punch­ing a bag in a work­out with an MMA fighter. I’m to­tally ac­ci­dent-prone. My body was so messed up for so many years, play­ing the Cham­pi­ons Tour is al­most a mir­a­cle. Not heroic, but a sur­prise.

what have i learned? Think young, but don’t be an idiot about it.The Seg­way in­jury hap­pened on a dare from my son, Phoenix, who is al­ways goad­ing me to do crazy stuff. Also, if you get an in­jury, stop every­thing. The old-school, tough-guy habit of “fight­ing your way through it” al­most al­ways makes the in­jury worse and leads to bad com­pen­sa­tion habits along the way. Fi­nally, re­mem­ber that surgery is al­ways the last re­sort. to find out what my kids’ ob­ses­sion with video games was about, I de­cided to try one. I took one of their old hand-held Game Boys and started play­ing Tetris.You know, where the blocks drop from above and you ar­range them to fit be­fore they hit the bot­tom. I got com­pletely ad­dicted.Af­ter un­told hours I did some­thing rather rare, which is com­plete ev­ery level.Then I heard about a se­cret code you could en­ter that un­locked a level where the blocks fly down in a blur, much too fast for any hu­man to fit them. It was sort of a joke on the player, but it did make you won­der about the pos­si­bil­i­ties.Af­ter I’d playedTetris awhile, the kids said,“What do you think now, Dad?”The best I could come up with was, “Just re­mem­ber, no­body went to their grave wish­ing they’d played more video games be­tween ages 15 and 25.” golf is like that crazy level of Tetris. In the end, it’s un­solv­able.When Jim Furyk shot that 58, there were the in­evitable



men­tions about how it could have been even lower. It’s al­most cruel to make that ob­ser­va­tion so quickly, but I have no doubt that even Jim has pon­dered how, with just a lit­tle more magic, it could have been a 57. Or 56.

the first two sea­sons of the re­al­ity show “The Parneviks” were a nice suc­cess. It ran only in Swe­den, and I dreaded sign­ing on for it be­cause of a phe­nom­e­non known as Jan­te­la­gen. It refers to The Law of Jante, which ba­si­cally means you should not as­pire to sur­pass your sta­tion in life. If you do, and your ef­forts go awry, you will be pub­licly torn apart for hav­ing the au­dac­ity to try. I was very wary of open­ing my fam­ily to that kind of crit­i­cism if it didn’t work. But it did. Our formula of bring­ing in un­ex­pected guests – ath­letes, politi­cians and even crim­i­nals – added a hu­man el­e­ment that com­ple­mented my crazy fam­ily. I was go­ing to dis­con­tinue “The Parneviks” so I could con­cen­trate on play­ing the se­nior tour, but we started a third sea­son.At least one episode will take place dur­ing a PGA­Tour Cham­pi­ons event.

i hate and fear ter­ror­ism more than most peo­ple. I was in Man­hat­tan dur­ing the 9/11 at­tacks – we’d par­tied all night a cou­ple of blocks from the World Trade Cen­tre – and the shock of it stayed with me for years. Re­mem­ber how the 2001 Ry­der Cup was post­poned? I was on that team. A year later, at The Belfry, I flew in early to get a head start. One night there was an earth­quake that shook the ho­tel.Think­ing it might be a ter­ror­ist at­tack, I ran out of the ho­tel to the 18th green, stark naked. My wife, Mia, kid­ded me about that.When the at­tack in Nice, France, hap­pened last July, I was so up­set I took a sleep­ing pill to help me doze off. It didn’t help. I then broke a car­di­nal rule in life: Do not write emails or go on Twit­ter af­ter tak­ing an Ambien. I woke up to find I had writ­ten an email to a bunch of share­hold­ers of J Lin­de­berg, whom I rep­re­sent, with ref­er­ences to fly­ing cows and bik­ing ze­bras.That one needed an apol­ogy.

for a time I ate vol­canic sand, seek­ing to im­prove my health and per­for­mance. I don’t know if it did me much good, but the mind-set be­hind it – try­ing to get an edge – helped, though not enough for me to keep do­ing it. I also tried be­ing a fruitar­ian – all fruits, noth­ing else – for a while but got so skinny and weak I had to quit that. I’ve tried strobe glasses, rocks and crys­tals, scents, hav­ing the fill­ings in my teeth changed, en­er­gis­ing my blood and many other things.The same guy who turned me on to be­ing a fruitar­ian, claims to know breathar­i­ans.These are peo­ple who don’t eat food at all and sub­sist on oxy­gen. I won’t be try­ing that one.

go to youtube and en­ter the name,“Ea­monn Darcy.”Watch that swing.This guy was a Ry­der Cup­per, a damn good player.When I came up, there were un­con­ven­tional swings ev­ery­where. I’m not overly nos­tal­gic for those days, but the swings peo­ple adopted to ma­noeu­vre the ball around the golf course will al­ways be fas­ci­nat­ing. I was on a Track­Man re­cently, mea­sured my­self for two days.The first day my swing path was 10 de­grees in­side to out.The sec­ond day it was 12 de­grees out­side to in. My ball wound up the same dis­tance from the tar­get both days. I also was given driv­ers with ex­tremely wide ranges of lofts and shaft flexes, and within three swings I ad­justed to all of them.There’s some­thing to be said for that, though I’m not sure what.Young play­ers to­day, they’re bet­ter off learn­ing the con­ven­tional way.

dur­ing last year’s open at troon, com­men­ta­tors were re­mark­ing how Hen­rik Sten­son’s iron shots seemed to be louder than the other play­ers’. I’ve al­ways thought sound is one of the best se­cret indi­ca­tors of how solidly you’re hit­ting it. You get that sound by “cov­er­ing” the ball.You want to squash it, make it stick to the cen­tre of the club­face. In my prime years, the player who made the best sound with his irons was Paul Azinger.You could blind­fold me and put me on the range with 100 tour play­ers, and I would be able to pick out Paul.The sound of his irons – and for that mat­ter, his sand shots, too – were as beau­ti­ful as any con­cert.

hen­rik, an­nika soren­stam and I – ev­ery very good Swedish player – owe it all to Sven Tumba. He was one of the most re­mark­able ath­letes who ever lived and the guy who in­tro­duced Swe­den to golf. In the 1950s, Sven was the best hockey player on a Swedish team that won three world cham­pi­onships, beat­ing Rus­sia at a time when the Sovi­ets were dom­i­nant. One day he de­cided to take up soc­cer and showed up to play for the Swedish na­tional team.The other play­ers laughed at him, but he scored three goals in the first half and fa­mously said to the oth­ers, “This game we’re play­ing – it is a good game.What do you call it again?” Next, Sven took up wa­ter ski­ing and won the Swedish cham­pi­onship at that. Fi­nally, he took up golf and ended up play­ing in the World Cup and for the Eisen­hower Tro­phy. That wasn’t all. He was an in­no­va­tor who in­tro­duced the first hockey hel­met, founded the Scan­di­na­vian Masters and built the first golf course in Rus­sia. He was charis­matic, sort of a con­ti­nen­tal Muham­mad Ali. If you ask Jack Nick­laus to name the great­est ath­lete he ever saw, he’ll tell you, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, Sven Tumba.

when i start miss­ing putts, I blame the put­ter. A put­ter doesn’t like be­ing yelled at and will try to get re­venge, so the only thing to do is put it in the garage and switch to a new one. I never throw the put­ter away, be­cause put­ters don’t hold grudges.They don’t like be­ing put in time-out, and when you give them a sec­ond chance they’ll do their best to start mak­ing putts again.

when i took up golf at age 10, it was such an ob­scure sport in Swe­den that few peo­ple even knew what it was. I re­mem­ber tak­ing a golf club to show-and-tell at school and the other kids be­ing fas­ci­nated be­cause they’d never seen one. The near­est course was an hour from our home.The few cour­ses I grew up on in Swe­den weren’t much for con­di­tion­ing. The lies were so con­sis­tently ter­ri­ble, you had to hit down on the ball. Like Lee Trevino, I be­came a dig­ger, hit­ting down sharply on the ball with my irons. It was an ef­fec­tive tech­nique, but over the years,

as cour­ses got bet­ter and play­ers were able to sweep, I be­came com­par­a­tively worse. If you moved play­ers from my era to to­day, I think a lot of them would strug­gle. I hate to say it, but that would in­clude Trevino and Seve. Their ver­sa­til­ity, which was their strength, would be less ef­fec­tive on cour­ses where lies are per­fect and dis­tance is so im­por­tant.The re­verse would be true – play­ers of to­day would strug­gle if you moved them back in time.

there’s one ex­cep­tion: Tiger Woods. I al­ways felt his ge­nius was his abil­ity to read lies, which you can’t al­ways see very well onTV.The ball could be sit­ting down, perched up, have a tuft of grass just be­hind it or any of a hun­dred vari­a­tions, and he had an un­canny way of read­ing the lie and then shap­ing his swing to pro­duce the best shot. No­body was re­motely close.

i played with tiger the first two rounds of the 2000 US Open at Peb­ble Beach, the one he won by 15 shots. Af­ter 36 holes, my cad­die, Lance Ten Broeck, and I charted my rounds and Tiger’s. We found he had not missed a sin­gle putt in­side 20 feet.The greens at Peb­ble are not great, even dur­ing a US Open. A 20-footer will wig­gle 10 ways be­fore it gets to the hole. A putting ro­bot would blow a fuse try­ing to make all those putts be­cause the ball will be­have dif­fer­ently ev­ery time. Tiger had an un­canny, zen-like way of an­tic­i­pat­ing those wiggles, fil­ter­ing them through his sub­con­scious and hit­ting the ball so the wiggles would even out and the putt would drop. I never saw any­thing that sur­passed it un­til 2008.

re­mem­ber the putt Tiger made to force a play­off against Rocco Me­di­ate at the 2008 US Open? I had the same putt one hour ear­lier – same dis­tance, same line. I played two inches of break, and the ball hardly broke. When Tiger’s ball left the put­ter, I saw he’d played a foot of break, which was way too much. But as Tiger stared at the ball, it moved – a lot – and fell in. That was some se­ri­ous Uri Geller, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Force-like shit. I don’t care what any sci­en­tist says, I’m con­vinced that Tiger’s mind, not the slope of the green, caused that ball to move.

when the tiger scan­dal hap­pened, I pub­licly came down very hard on him. Elin had been our nanny and was like a daugh­ter to us. I’m the one who in­tro­duced her to Tiger, and when the in­fi­delity came to light, it felt like the worst be­trayal ever. But over time, I for­gave Tiger. He and Elin are friends, which is nice, and he’s a good par­ent. His mis­takes hurt him, too. I see Tiger at the Medal­ist.We talk and have played nine holes to­gether. On the range, at least, his tra­jec­tory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago. Come­backs are never a sure thing, but some­thing tells me his might be spec­tac­u­lar.

one more ob­ser­va­tion about Tiger. When an ath­lete signs enor­mous en­dorse­ment deals upon turn­ing pro like he did, one of two things al­most al­ways hap­pens. They ei­ther get com­pla­cent or they feel so much pres­sure to de­liver the goods that they fal­ter within a cou­ple of years. Tiger is the one guy who ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions com­mer­cially and per­for­mance-wise. None of his peers were jeal­ous of his con­tracts. They knew that if any­thing, he was prob­a­bly un­der­paid.

dur­ing the west-coast swing on the PGA Tour, we’d rent an RV for six weeks. Mia, me, the four kids and two nan­nies.The drives are long, and bore­dom and ten­sion would set in. I would pull over, herd ev­ery­one out, and to­gether, we’d let out a pri­mal scream as taught to us by Jo­han Lin­de­berg. What you do is scream at the top of your lungs and main­tain it for a full minute, pour­ing every­thing you have into it. It’s in­cred­i­bly cleans­ing, a to­tal clear­ing of your cache. When we’d pile back into the RV, we again were the hap­pi­est, most re­laxed group you’ve ever seen.

on the sub­ject of road trips, my Sun­day at the Boe­ing Clas­sic last Au­gust looked like it was go­ing to end like all the rest – fin­ish the round, head to the air­port and fly to the next event. Warm­ing up on the range, John Daly came by. “Why don’t you drive up with me in my mo­tor home? I can use the com­pany.” The next tour­na­ment was in Cal­gary, Al­berta. Beau­ti­ful coun­try, I’d heard, and how many more chances will I get to see it? The best ex­pe­ri­ences in life oc­cur when you break from the or­di­nary. So we pile into his RV, and what fol­lowed was a spec­tac­u­lar 15 hours. It was sup­posed to be 10 hours, but we made a se­ries of wrong turns. Wrong turns usu­ally lead to des­o­late, god­for­saken places, but this time, ev­ery one pre­sented a more beau­ti­ful view than the last.We just shrugged and kept driv­ing, GPS be damned. John might be the best road com­pan­ion ever. Great con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist, al­ways re­laxed, great taste in mu­sic. Fif­teen hours in the car with some­one can feel like be­ing stuck in an el­e­va­tor with some­one you don’t like. With John, it flew by. I rolled into Cal­gary feel­ing great about the world. Fin­ished fifth, one of my bet­ter out­ings of the year.

we’re in the early days of peo­ple play­ing mu­sic on the golf course, and I can’t say I’m a fan. I don’t mind that Rocco Me­di­ate blares the heav­i­est metal you can imag­ine on the course when­ever he can. I ac­tu­ally like it. What’s an­noy­ing is peo­ple whip­ping out their phones and try­ing to one-up each other with their mu­sic. The mu­sic be­comes the thing more than the golf.

ove sell­berg was one of the bet­ter Euro­pean play­ers of the 1980s and the first Swede to win on the Euro­pean Tour. He came from a very trou­bled back­ground. Swe­den has some unsavoury as­pects, just as any­where else, and Ove was run­ning with a bad crowd. I wasn’t there for that part, but when he took up golf, by all ac­counts the look in his eye changed. Maybe it was the self-polic­ing as­pect or the idea that you keep try­ing no mat­ter what, but it aroused some­thing in him he never knew he had. When I played in The


First Tee Open at Peb­ble Beach in 2015, I saw a lot of young peo­ple with dif­fi­cult pasts. Over the course of a few days, you could see the look in their eyes chang­ing, as it did with Ove. Of all the games, only golf has the ca­pac­ity to do that.

i’ve tried to stay youth­ful. I’ve tried to avoid be­ing the 50-some­thing in full mid-life cri­sis, the guy with the Corvette con­vert­ible, hair im­plants and a com­pul­sion to chat up 25-year-old girls at clubs. For­tu­nately, peo­ple are be­com­ing more in­dif­fer­ent to age. I see huge age dis­par­i­ties within groups go­ing on golf trips. I see a lot of 50-year-olds who play 36 holes, dance all the time, hang out with younger peo­ple, try slightly crazy stuff and let their at­ti­tudes change.You want to be the guy who is com­pletely com­fort­able in his slightly wrin­kled skin, where it’s hard to tell by look­ing how old they are ex­actly.Age-wise, our cul­tures are blend­ing to­gether.

as we age and look in the mir­ror, we tend to see a 27-year-old look­ing back. It’s hu­man na­ture to dis­re­gard the ev­i­dence and be­lieve we’re frozen in our primes. When Bern­hard Langer said there was an out­side chance he could win the Masters at age 58, he meant it. If you’ve seen Bern­hard, who is now 59, play golf these days, you re­alise it can be a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy. On the other hand, you can’t es­cape the truth.When an 85-year-old tells Bern­hard,“You’re just a baby,” the way 85-year-olds tend to do, I’ll bet Bern­hard mut­ters to him­self, I’m far from be­ing a kid.

it’s in­ac­cu­rate to look at peo­ple like Tiger and at­tribute their suc­cess to joy and pas­sion. I as­sure you, the mo­ti­va­tion is usu­ally much darker than that. It’s no fun beat­ing balls in a cold rain, or fol­low­ing a missed three­footer on the last hole by go­ing to the prac­tice green for five hours.The per­son who pays that price is usu­ally driven by des­per­a­tion, lone­li­ness, a deep in­se­cu­rity or a need to prove some­body wrong. In my case, I had a fa­ther, Bo Parnevik, who was the most fa­mous co­me­dian in Swe­den. At 13, I was about a 26-hand­i­cap. It drew at­ten­tion, and I hated the em­bar­rass­ment. My fa­ther was won­der­ful and never pushed me, but just hav­ing his name made me prac­tise in­sanely hard to be­come suc­cess­ful. It was work, the fur­thest thing from what the av­er­age golfer would call fun. In­ter­est­ingly, the break­throughs came at the most un­pleas­ant mo­ments.

how fa­mous was my dad? In Amer­ica, the Su­per Bowl gets some­thing like a 44 share on TV. In Swe­den, his weekly va­ri­ety show,“Party With Parnevik,” rou­tinely drew a 75 share. He was a master en­ter­tainer. His per­for­mances looked ef­fort­less. But be­hind the scenes, his prepa­ra­tion was in­cred­i­ble.At home, he would re­hearse ev­ery line end­lessly. Even “mis­takes” were re­hearsed, so he could in­cor­po­rate them into the act to make it look more nat­u­ral. I was on Jay Leno’s show once and re­hearsed like crazy. I was told af­ter­wards how spon­ta­neous and funny I was, but be­lieve me, I prac­tised. If you’re called upon to give a speech and are wor­ried about stage fright, there’s one sure way to do it well, and that’s to pre­pare.

mia and i have four great chil­dren. I think it’s al­most un­prece­dented that three gen­er­a­tions of Parneviks – my dad, me and now our daugh­ter, Peg – have suc­ceeded in sports and en­ter­tain­ment. Peg is 21 and an in­cred­i­ble singer. Her song “Ain’t No Saint” reached No 1 on Swedish ra­dio and has been streamed more than 22 mil­lion times on Spo­tify. Her younger sis­ter Penny helped pro­duce and di­rect one of her mu­sic videos. Philippa, 17, and Phoenix, who is 15, have good lives in store for them. i thought a golf ca­reer was tough, but watch­ing Peg try to make it in the mu­sic busi­ness has been a rev­e­la­tion. It’s not like it was 20 years ago, when a band could re­lease one good al­bum and coast for a while. Most mu­si­cians to­day can’t make a liv­ing re­leas­ing al­bums at all, be­cause good mu­sic is so cheap and avail­able ev­ery­where.They need to per­form live. Also, what’s hot to­day is old news to­mor­row. Mu­sic doesn’t have the legs it used to.The good news is, more peo­ple can get their mu­sic out there.The bad news is, it’s much tougher to be­come a star.

if you’re get­ting yippy with the put­ter un­der pres­sure, try this trick: In­stead of smooth­ing and slow­ing down your stroke, make it shorter and quicker than usual. I call it “yipping on pur­pose,” and it works. Just aim the put­ter at the hole and jab the ball straight in the mid­dle.

the day i re­sumed ski­ing af­ter a 20year lay­off, I won­dered if I’d re­mem­ber how to do it. It truly was like rid­ing a bike. Half­way down my first run I thought, Why can’t golf be like this? In golf I’ve taken two days off, and on the third day felt like I was start­ing over. I’ve ac­tu­ally had that same feel­ing play­ing the back nine af­ter lunch.

a key rea­son I keep my­self fit is so the end of life will come eas­ier. Healthy peo­ple tend to flame out very quickly when the time comes, whereas in­ac­tive peo­ple tend to get sick early and then linger. I dread the thought of suf­fer­ing, which is strange see­ing how I play a game in which suf­fer­ing is part of the ter­ri­tory.

at the honda clas­sic one year, I fat­ted my sec­ond shot on the par-4 sec­ond hole into a muddy area left of the green. My ball was only half em­bed­ded, so I de­cided to take a chance. I closed my eyes and swung as hard as I could, hit­ting down sharply.When I looked up, I saw my ball air­mail­ing the green by 60 yards, out-of-bounds. A full five sec­onds later – I had time to start bitch­ing – whoom – a sec­ond ball drops out of the sky and lands right next to the hole. Un­be­liev­ably, the ball I fat­ted had come to rest di­rectly on top of another ball, which was buried even more deeply. My swing had dis­lodged the buried ball, which flew over the green. Mean­while, my ball was sent al­most straight up in the air. It was prob­a­bly the most bizarre par in the his­tory of golf. If you play this game long enough, you’ll see it all.


pho­tographed by john loomis, at home in jupiter, florida.

my shot / 51 / jupiter, florida

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