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Archive for Friday, April 1, 2005

Colorful array brightens tour

April 1, 2005

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— Already known for flipping up the bill of his cap, Jesper Parnevik took fashion to a new extreme at the 1997 Bob Hope Classic when he showed up on the practice range with a bright array of tight-fitting clothes from Swedish designer Johan Lindeberg.

The idea was to bring style back to golf.

Everyone else thought he was nuts.

"There were a lot of frowns when I stepped onto the range," Parnevik said. "Johan went overboard in the beginning with very tight stuff. He wanted to make a statement. At the time, guys really wanted to know what was going on."

Now, all they have to do is look around.

One day last week at The Players Championship, Parnevik was dressed in aqua pants, a white belt and a bright turquoise shirt with orange down the side. Depending on whose company he keeps, he no longer stands out.

Not with Darren Clarke dressed up like a Popsicle, head-to-toe in bright orange during the final round of the Bay Hill Invitational. The most outrageous might have been Ian Poulter, who wore pants with a Union Jack pattern at the British Open, and a Stars & Stripes pattern at the PGA Championship.

Scott Hend wore bright yellow pants and a kelly green shirt at Torrey Pines. Hunter Mahan rarely goes through a tournament without wearing pink pants and a matching hat.

"Do you want to see guys wearing khakis and white shirts? Or do you want to see somebody a little bit different?" Clarke said. "There's more to us than just playing golf. I think it brightens it up and makes it a bit of fun."

For those who think the colorful array of clothing is over the top, consider the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, where Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks faced each other in an 18-hole playoff.

Jesper Parnevik tees off in this file photo from Sunday. Parnevik
is one of many golfers setting new fashion trends on the tour with
their bright and colorful apparel.

Jesper Parnevik tees off in this file photo from Sunday. Parnevik is one of many golfers setting new fashion trends on the tour with their bright and colorful apparel.

Both showed up on the first tee that Monday morning wearing khaki pants and white shirts.

"It's definitely going away from that," Mahan said. "Jesper, he's been doing it the longest. He's the man who got everything going."

Golf has been dominated by talk of the Big Four and tournaments interrupted by weather. But another trend that can no longer be ignored is the latest shift in fashion.

Sansabelt pants were all the rage in the '70s.

The '80s were about colors and plaids that never seemed to work together and gave golf a bad reputation for having badly dressed men chasing a little white ball. Portraits of winners at The Players Championship hang from a wall at Sawgrass, and there was one stretch in the '80s that three out of four champions wore red pants.

Later down the row, it becomes obvious that golf went conservative in the '90s with solid pants and solid shirts.

And then Parnevik showed up.

"I never felt like a pioneer," Parnevik said. "I didn't think it would come this far, where you see everybody going in that direction. I didn't think it would be this fast. But it's fun."

Charles Howell III used to hang out with Parnevik early in his career, and it wasn't long before he was hooked on the J. Lindeberg line of clothing.

"In the world of basketball, if you want to be different, you have to pierce 15 different planks and have 37 different hair colors," Howell once said. "In golf, you wear something like this and it sets you apart."

Something like this?

Not many will forget the white pants with a green stripe down the side Howell wore at the Masters.

Howell no longer has a deal with J. Lindeberg, although players in the Swedish designer's stable include Fredrik Jacobson, Hank Kuehne and Aaron Baddeley.

Baddeley usually has a tight-fitting shirt with short sleeves and a large white belt. Small wonder that he wasn't on the PGA Tour long before his peers gave him the nickname "Dresses" -- as in dresses badly.

Poulter is a 29-year-old Englishman and probably has the most outrageous closet, although he takes his clothes -- and his golf -- quite seriously. He heard the whispers that he should try to bring attention to himself with his game, not his wardrobe, but Poulter already has six victories on the PGA European Tour, one each year since he was a rookie in 2000.

His fashion idol is not Parnevik, but Payne Stewart.

Stewart showed plenty of self-confidence by wearing plus-fours and a tam-o'shanter cap at a time when he was a fledgling pro. It became his trademark through two U.S. Open titles and a PGA Championship before his death in a freak plane accident in 1999.

"He was, and probably is to this day, the best-dressed man in golf for the time he was around," Poulter said. "His dress sense was awesome."

That's the point Poulter and others are trying to get across.

It's more about style than making a statement.

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