SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jesper Parnevik spent two months this year trying to play with an injured toe. He broke it while scampering around on his boat and jamming his foot into a case of beer.
No. Parnevik wasn’t drinking.
“That was the problem,” he said. “The case was full.”
Now Parnevik can down a celebratory mug. He shot a career-best 9-under 61 on Thursday to take a four-stroke lead after the first round of the Texas Open, overcoming an opening bogey to birdie eight of the next 11 holes.
The 42-year-old Swede, winless since taking the last of his five PGA Tour titles in 2001, also birdied his final two holes – Nos. 8 and 9 – after starting on the back nine on the LaCantera Golf Club Resort Course. The 61 topped his previous PGA Tour best of 62, set last year in a second-place finish in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
It’s the lowest score at the Texas Open since Bart Bryant shot a 60 in the third round when he won in 2004. On the PGA Tour this year, Zach Johnson shot a 60 in the third round of the Tour Championship.
A low score wasn’t on Parnevik’s mind after the bogey start. His blast out of a greenside bunker left him 24 feet short, and he missed the par putt on his first hole.
“Normally, that’s where the panic sets in. That it’s going to be a really sorry day,” Parnevik said. “But I came into this week feeling the game was there.”
Major champions Justin Leonard – the 2000 and 2001 Texas Open winner – and Bob Tway were at 65 along with 2005 champion Robert Gamez, Mathias Gronberg, Matt Hendrix, Neal Lancaster, Shigeki Maruyama, Daniel Chopra, Richard S. Johnson and Dan Forsman.
Tway birdied his final four holes.
“It was an average round, then I make four in a row and all of a sudden it became a good round,” Tway said. “It was kind of strange.”
Chad Campbell, the Viking Classic winner Sunday in Mississippi, shot a 66 to top a group that included 1995 U.S. Open winner Corey Pavin. Defending champion Eric Axley had a 67, holing a bunker shot from 34 yards for birdie on No. 18.
There were 30 players within six shots of Parnevik. Overall, 66 players broke par on day with light wind and temperatures in the upper 80s.
A flurry of putter changes the past week helped Parnevik return to the form he showed when he was winning regularly. He tried a belly putter last weekend before settling on a more traditional brand of putter Wednesday he’s never seen.
“As soon as I set it on the ground I said, ‘This is it,'” he said. “I putted great with it today. That’s how easy it is sometimes.”
He sank putts of 25 feet and 19 feet during the birdie run midway through his round. He had nine one-putts and a chip-in.
But at 138th on the money list, Parnevik is struggling to make the top 125 and keep his tour card. He’s coming off a 17th-place tie in Mississippi, and tied for 15th in the Heritage Classic.
Colt Knost, the U.S. Amateur champion and U.S. Public Links winner from SMU, shot a 71 in his professional debut. John Daly, who said he’s recovering from a case of strep throat and flu, opened with a 72.