Golf: Parnevik the ghost buster

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THE last time we saw Jesper Parnevik he was holding his head in his hands and trying, not all that successfully, to give the impression of a man who was in control of his emotions. A lot of tears have passed through the burn since the Open Championship at Turnberry and yesterday the Swede was once again experiencing the white heat of competition at the sharp end.

The Scandinavian Masters may not carry as much clout as the Open but victory here would be important for Parnevik. Not only would it help to exorcise the memory of Turnberry but it would provide Sweden with its first winner in this championship and further enhance golf's growing profile against football, ice hockey and tennis. 'I was simply trying to make as many birdies as possible,' Parnevik said.

It sounded familiar. He said the same after his dramatic last round in the Open when he had five birdies on the back nine but bogeyed the last. That was after he had ignored the scoreboards and was under the misapprehension that he needed a birdie at the 18th.

Yesterday Parnevik, wearing the trademark cap with the peak turned up, got a birdie at the 18th. He had also birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th to come home in 32 in a round of 65, seven under for the day. As good as that was it was not the best score of the third round which was played in cooler, overcast conditions compared to the extraordinary heat of the first two days.

While Parnie's army gave him considerable vocal support (the crowd was in excess of 20,000), the Englishmen Mark Davis and Mark Roe established a foothold at the top of the leaderboard. Davis's 65 put him at 15 under par and today he will partner Roe who got to 14 under with a 64. Roe, who won the French Open this season, looks at the leaderboard on every hole. 'It's most important to know what everybody else is doing,' he said. 'Sweden could have the Open champion now if Jesper had done the same thing.'

Roe, seventh in the Order of Merit, wrote to the US PGA asking for an invitation to their championship which takes place in Oklahoma a week on Thursday. They said they would monitor his performances but he is resigned to missing the fourth and last major of the year. Parnevik, however, received an invitation this week and will leave Stockholm for Tulsa the day after his wedding.

Davis, from Essex, has a solitary victory on the European Tour, the Austrian Open three years ago. He partly attributes his return to form to the fact that he has dispensed with the services of a coach. 'You can take too much information,' he said. 'I was thinking too much about where the club was instead of trying to hit the shots.'

Davis, who has the nickname 'Mad Dog', which he maintains is the result of his initials, had six birdies on the front nine and his only dropped shot came at the fifth where he came out of a bunker to three feet and missed the putt.

Roe, who began with three birdies, had eight in all. His ambition this season is to represent England in the World Cup and the Dunhill Cup and next year to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup. 'I'm no longer thinking about finishing in the top 10,' Roe said. 'I'm thinking about winning. I shall be very nervous tomorrow but I'll use that to focus on my game.'

Roe, who was fined last year for throwing a bowl of spaghetti over Russell Claydon's head, is a notorious fidget who likes to get on with it. He and Davis know each other very well. Asked if he had partnered Roe before, Davis replied: 'Unfortunately yes. He's just a bit full of himself.'

So it is Davis by one from Roe, by three from Per Haugsrud, of Norway, and Vijay Singh, of Fiji, and by four from Parnevik, Sven Struver, Andrew Coltart and Mark McNulty. About the only name we have not had on the leaderboard is Haagen-Dazs. That and Ian Woosnam's. The Welshman went out early yesterday morning and was out- played by the Dane Steen Tinning, scoring 72.

(Photograph omitted)