British Open fans love a kooky Swede (see: Jesper Parnevik), and Fredrik Jacobson, the hockey-loving Happy Gilmore of Sweden, has left locals, well, happy especially after posting a two-over 72 on Friday. He enters the weekend at three over for the tournament, very much in the mix.
Ice hockey was Jacobson's sport as a kid. (He also ranked among Sweden's top 30 table tennis players as a teen.) "Most people play ice hockey left-handed, but I was a righty, like Happy Gilmore," Jacobson said with a laugh. "And I was a bit wild, too, with my driver in the early days."
His game is now more consistent, thanks to two years under David Leadbetter's tutelage. While few picked the 33-year-old as an Open dark horse, he's been showing form on the PGA Tour, with a T-9 at the Buick Open and a second at the AT&T National. His best British showing was a T-6 at Royal St George's in 2003, the same year he posted a T-5 at the U.S. Open.
"The British Open is my best chance at a major," said Jacobson, who, at three over (71, 72) stood three shots behind the clubhouse leader, Greg Norman, on Friday afternoon. "I enjoy the struggle with the wind. I am a numbers guy and love calculating what club to take. It's tough out there, but I am striking the ball well, and the greens are perfect."
Jacobson talks in a slow, booming drawl that reminds you of Arnie the Governor, not the King. He seemed almost invisible Friday as he stood in front of Royal Birkdale's iconic art-deco clubhouse, his white clothes disappearing in the structure's bleached curves and turrets. Still, two days of solid play got him plenty of notice.
Never mind the rain. If Jacobson is paired with fellow fashionista Ian Poulter on Saturday, wear you sunglasses. Even if you're watching on TV.