Parnevik Wins Byron Nelson Classic

Monday, May 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Jesper Parnevik wore hot pink pants, the color of Pepto-Bismol. Ultimately, it was Davis Love III who felt sick to his stomach.

With a chance to win for the first time in two years and 47 tournaments, Love missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday. With a chance to stay alive in a thrilling playoff at the Byron Nelson Classic, he missed a 5-foot par putt 50 minutes later on the same hole.

Parnevik missed the shortest putt of all — a tap-in on No. 12 that left him in shock — but he made the one that mattered — about the same length, for par on the third playoff hole to win for the second time this year.

``This was definitely exciting,'' said the 35-year-old Swede, who closed with a 4-under-par 66 and earned $720,000.

That depends who you ask.

It was a thrill a minute for Tiger Woods, who brought back memories of Pebble Beach with an eagle from the fourth fairway to get back into contention. Woods had a 7-under 63, his lowest final round ever as a professional, to finish one stroke out of the playoff.

It was a disappointment for Phil Mickelson, who ended a streak of 32 holes without a bogey by catching a plugged lie in the bunker on No. 18 for bogey that dropped him into a playoff.

``I hit what I thought was a really good shot,'' he said of his 9-iron to the green. ``I was expecting to have about a 15-footer for birdie and instead I had almost an impossible par. So, that was a disappointing finish.''

Mickelson, who closed with a 5-under 65, was eliminated on the second playoff hole when his 15-foot birdie putt lipped out on the par-3 17th.

And it was devastating to Love, who now has finished second seven times since his last PGA Tour victory, the 1998 MCI Classic.

``Like Phil, we both feel like there probably shouldn't have been a playoff,'' said Love, who had a 69 but was only even par on the weekend. ``If I'd have taken care of business, I could have put it out of reach.''

At times, it seemed as though Woods was the only one who wanted to win. Everyone else will think back to shots that cost them a valuable stroke.

Parnevik's was the most glaring. After a great lag to about a foot on the 12th hole, he stepped up to tap in for par and was shocked when he missed.

``It just snapped-sliced,'' he said. ``After the putt I missed on 12, I really didn't see that I was going to get into the playoff. But then I saw Davis drop a few, and I was right back in the game.''

Tied for the lead with John Huston going into the final round, Love was in control at 12 under until he three-putted the 12th, then hit his drive into the trees on No. 14 and took another bogey.

With Mickelson's bogey on the 18th, and Love missing his birdie on the same hole, all three finished at 269 and headed for a playoff.

Love holed a 20-footer on the second playoff hole, No. 17, which suddenly made Parnevik's 4-footer look a lot longer. He snuck it in the side to match the birdie, then needed only a two-putt par from 20 feet on the final hole.

Love actually caught a good break when he got relief from newly laid sod left of the 18th green, but his chip stopped 5 feet from the hole, a length that has troubled Love during his two-year winning drought.

``I just peaked a little bit and pulled it,'' Love said.

Instead of congratulations, he had to settle for consolation. Again.

Still, he walked over to Mia Parnevik, gave her a hug and said, ``Happy Mother's Day,'' a class act in a moment of despair.

Parnevik, meanwhile, never did light up that victory cigar, as he has in his three previous PGA Tour victories.

``I guess it was not really good timing,'' Parnevik said.

It might not have been a great idea to wear those pants, which caused host Byron Nelson to quip, ``I need more protection for my eyes.''

The last time Parnevik wore hot pink, he found himself standing by the 18th green in the final round at Los Angeles as Kirk Triplett, winless in 266 tour starts, had a short putt to win the tournament.

Parnevik got a different result this time, but the same feeling. Part of him wanted to see Love make the putt and end two years of frustration.

``I know Davis wants to win so bad,'' Parnevik said. ``He's such a great guy and a great player. He should win one of these.''

Parnevik becomes only the third player with multiple victories this year, joining Woods (3) and Mickelson (2). He previously won the Bob Hope Classic, wearing a drab combination of black and gray.

``I spent three or four weeks on the West Coast. I ran out of the good stuff,'' Parnevik said.

Despite tying for fourth with Huston, Woods gave himself ample opportunities. He hit every green in regulation, and could have joined the playoff with a 15-foot birdie putt that burned the edge.

Still, it was the 16th time in his last 19 tour events that he finished in the top five.

Woods was in a twosome with David Duval, No. 2 in the world ranking, for the first time in the final round. Duval, who had a 70 for a 277 total, missed six putts from 10 feet or in, a problem that has plagued him all year.

Parnevik missed the shortest putt of all, but not the one that mattered at the end.