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Parnevik beats Garcia at SAS Invitational

First, Tiger Woods. Then, Sergio Garcia.

It's tough beating Jesper Parnevik on the course outside the Swedish capital where he honed his game as a youngster and still plays when he's home.

Parnevik beat Garcia by three strokes, carding a 4-under-par 68 to give the Nordic All Stars a 3-3 tie with the Rest of the World after Monday's first round in the SAS Invitational.

Two matches started played simultaneously in the three Nordic capitals of Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Helsinki, Finland.

The final six matches, also under the medal match-play team format, will be played Tuesday in Oslo, Norway, on a course with famous ski center Holmenkollen as backdrop.

Mark O'Meara, the 1998 Masters and British Open champion who is the World team's captain for the third straight year, lost by five strokes (69-74) to Sweden's Robert Karlsson in the other match in Stockholm.

Parnevik, who edged Tiger Woods 2 and 1 on the same Ullna course last year when the tournament format was match play, took the lead early against Garcia in a match that was the last to finish in the three Nordic capitals.

The 21-year-old Spaniard, who was Parnevik's partner in the Ryder Cup matches outside Boston last year when the United States edged Europe, made a late charge when he holed long birdie putts on the 13th and 14th holes.

But Garcia dropped a shot on the 16th, a spectacular par-3 along the lakeside. Garcia's tee shot went right, into the trees. He chipped past the green and two-putted for bogey.

``I didn't want to beat him in his own country, so I just tried to get close to him (toward the end) and let him win,'' Garcia joked.

Parnevik played with hip pain that also bothered him in the British Open last week at St. Andrews in Scotland, where the former two-time Open runnerup tied for 36th with Garcia and four others.

``When this event is over, I'll rest one week until the Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm,'' Parnevik said. ``I will also probably take one month off from the PGA Tour after the PGA Championship.

The last major is scheduled Aug. 17-20 at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., a course designed by Jack Nicklaus where Parnevik did well in the PGA Championship a few years ago, missing a playoff by only two shots.

In Copenhagen, the Nordics dropped both matches. British Open runner-up Thomas Bjorn of Denmark lost to last year's British Open champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland 66-71 and Retief Goosen of South Africa edged Norway's Per Haugsrud 70-71.

There were splits in Helsinki, with Sweden's Patrik Sjoland routing Carlos Franco of Paraguay 67-74, and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer of Germany beating Finland's Anssi Kankkonen 69-72.

 

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