Tournament host Bob Hope settled into his seat behind the 18th green yesterday just in time to see Jesper Parnevik, the son of a famous Swedish comedian, put on quite a show.
Parnevik rallied from three strokes behind, wasted a two-stroke lead on the back nine and then finished in style with a two-putt birdie on the 18th hole to win the Bob Hope Classic in Bermuda Dunes, Calif.
Parnevik closed with a 6-under 65--his 11th consecutive round under par--to finish at 331 for a one-stroke victory over Rory Sabbatini, who shot a 68. The victory was his third on the PGA Tour in as many years, and the $540,000 check was the largest of his career.
"It was a little more interesting than I wanted it to be, but that's just the way I do things," Parnevik said.
This was the first tour victory that Parnevik didn't have at least a share of the lead entering the final round. And it was the first time he lit his victory cigar--just as much a trademark as his zany outfits--on the driving range.
The victory wasn't secure until Sabbatini failed to birdie the par-5 18th at Bermuda Dunes. The 23-year-old South African hit his tee shot under a tree, which kept him from reaching the green in two. He hit his third shot over the palms to 20 feet, but his putt to force a playoff never had a chance.
"I'm not in a situation where I feel like I lost the tournament," he said. "Jesper . . . he played well under the gun. The more opportunities I have, the less times this will happen."
David Toms and J.L. Lewis each had a 66 to finish at 333. David Duval, the defending champion who closed with a 59 last year, took himself out early. He didn't make a birdie until the par-5 eighth, made only one birdie on a par-4 and finished with a 69.
Parnevik was the only player to go low with Sabbatini. And perhaps it was fitting that Hope, 96, was looking on. Bo Parnevik never cared for the new comedians who "tell dirty jokes," the son said. "Bob Hope was always one of his favorite guys. He likes that kind of humor."
LPGA: Nancy Scranton won her first professional title since 1992, parring the second hole of a playoff with Sweden's Maria Hjorth in the Memorial of Naples in Naples, Fla.
Scranton, 38, who had reconstructive shoulder surgery in 1996, closed with a 2-under-par 70 to match Hjorth at 13-under 275 on the Club at the Strand. Hjorth, 26, shot a 64.
"It was very, very satisfying," Scranton said. "I've gotten back to where I felt like I could play. It was just so satisfying to have worked hard and got the rewards for working hard."
SENIOR PGA: George Archer won the MasterCard Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, for the second time in 10 years, closing with a 3-under-par 69 for a two-stroke victory.
Archer, 60, who began the round three strokes behind leader Graham Marsh, took the lead with an eagle on the 538-yard seventh hole, and birdied two other par 5s. Marsh shot a 74 to tie for second with Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin and Dana Quigley, who all had 72s.
"I was sick last night, throwing up and everything," he said. "But I hit a beautiful drive on the first hole and another beautiful shot on the second. I thought, 'Hey, I might be okay.' "