Golf: Parnevik survives pressure at home

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The Independent Online
By John Oakley in Stockholm

JESPER PARNEVIK won the Volvo Scandinavian Masters in his native Stockholm in superb style yesterday beating off a challenge from Darren Clarke with comparative ease.

Parnevik began the day two shots ahead of Clarke and finally ended three shots in front of his fellow Ryder Cup player with a final round 70 for an aggregate of 273, 11 under par.

Clarke finished runner-up in a European Tour event for the second successive week, having been beaten by one shot by Stephen Leaney in the Dutch Open last Sunday.

The Irishman was not pleased with his game yesterday and said: "Two seconds running and a third in all this year is not good. I'm not happy at being second, I'm disappointed.

"But I can't complain. Jesper played very solidly and it didn't help when I dropped a shot at the second hole. I needed a good start to put pressure on him and that put me back right away.

"I never really got close and when I knocked a birdie putt in at the 15th which might have given me a final chance he followed me in for a birdie himself.

"Then when I made bogey at the 16th I knew the tournament was over. But I guess I've got a big cheque and I've moved up from fourth to second in the Order of Merit so that's nice."

Clarke has other things on his mind. His wife, Heather, is expecting her first baby and the Irishman flew home last night on a special flight to Ireland immediately after the prize-giving.

It was the second time that Parnevik has won this tournament, the 33- year-old was also successful in Malmo in 1995.

"It's a great feeling to win in front of your own people," he said. "The first time was great. But perhaps the second time is greater.

"It's very hard to win before your home crowd. They not only want you to win but they expect you to win so the pressure is really on you. Now I just feel very tired.

"I haven't been putting well and had 37 putts in the third round but today I holed a few good ones coming down the stretch.

"I thought I had won it coming down the 13th but Darren holed two good birdie putts at 14 and 15 to put the pressure back on. But then he dropped a shot at the 16th and I knew it was over."

While Parnevik and Clarke dominated the day's play, Britain's Stephen Field put in a storming finish to finish third, one shot behind Clarke, and won pounds 50,070, the biggest cheque of his career to guarantee his Tour card for another year.

"I've only made two cuts this year before this week and had won only pounds 7,000. Now I'm thrilled to bits because it takes all the pressure off my shoulders for the rest of the year."

Colin Montgomerie shot 69 to finish on 282, nine shots behind Parnevik, but said: "It wasn't too bad today. I holed a few putts so I shall go to the States next Friday to prepare for the USPGA in a pretty good frame of mind."