HONOLULU (AP) — Jesper Parnevik is trying to stay out of the loop when it comes to Tiger Woods’ marriage so he won’t say anything he might regret.
No other PGA Tour player had such a personal stake in Woods’ infidelity than Parnevik, who once employed Woods’ wife, Elin, as a nanny and was responsible for introducing them.
Woods has not been seen in public in two months, and Parnevik said Tuesday he doesn’t know if they will stay together.
“I’ve kind of stayed out of it,” he said at the Sony Open, his first tournament of the year. “It’s better that people don’t approach me if I don’t know anything. That way I don’t say anything that I shouldn’t have. Like if she told me something and I let it slip out. It’s better that I don’t know, so I can say, ‘I don’t know.’
“I have an idea through my wife,” Parnevik said. “But I don’t want to be the one who says something wrong.”
Asked if he thought Woods could stay married, Parnevik smiled and said, “That’s what I mean. I can’t say.”
Parnevik, a five-time winner on tour, expressed outrage when allegations of Woods’ extramarital affairs were revealed in December. He told a Swedish newspaper he had lost all respect for golf’s No. 1 player as a man and a father, and regretted introducing the couple. “We thought better of him, but he is not the one we thought he was,” he told the Aftonbladet.
Parnevik said he has received mail over the last month from fans that applauded him for not sugarcoating his feelings about Woods.
“That was more of a personal case,” he said. “If I would have said something politically correct, I don’t think I could have looked Elin in the eye.”
Parnevik said he was shocked to hear of the infidelity, and had long defended Woods against the odd rumor of an affair.
“More and more, you hear guys say, ‘We knew about it.’ I had no idea,” he said. “Actually, I heard people sometimes say, ‘We say Tiger, we heard that Tiger had two blondes around his arm and I would say, ‘No way, that was Elin and her sister.’ Every story I said, ‘That can’t be right. Tiger would never do anything like that.’ It was a big shock for me.”
Parnevik had to take a one-time exemption from being among the top 50 in career money to get his PGA Tour card this year. He had surgery on his right hip about six months ago and did not play a tournament until Q-school in December, when he withdrew before the six rounds were over because he wasn’t ready.
Woods has taken an indefinite break from golf while he tries to salvage his family. There has been no indication from anyone when he might return to the PGA Tour.
Parnevik was asked what it would be like to pass Woods in the locker room.
“Of course, we’re going to have to chat,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to have to compete against each other.”