Jesper Parnevik, of Sweden, waves to the crowd after finishing on the 18th green during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in Scottsdale, Ariz.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin
March 19, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Jesper Parnevik is making his Champions Tour debut this week in the inaugural Tucson Conquistadores Classic.

''It's funny because I had a press conference when I won the Scandinavian Masters in `95 and I said I was going to retire by the age of 40 for sure, and `If you see me on the Champions Tour, just slap me because that means things didn't go the way I wanted,''' the Swede said. ''But I have to admit I'm actually so happy to be here and I've been counting down the days.''

The five-time PGA Tour winner turned 50 on March 7. He missed the cut two weeks ago in the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open after injuring his back during a practice round.

''My game is good,'' said Parnevik, set to begin play Friday at Omni Tucson National's Catalina Course. ''The body's been extremely good actually. I've been so happy. I've been looking forward to this. Then, I slipped in Puerto Rico in the practice round and cracked something in my back, so I haven't actually hit a ball for a week now. But I'm sure it's going to be fine.

''It's just amazing that before my first event on the Champions Tour I cracked my back. It's been perfect since I fell on that Segway last summer, which was another stupid injury.''

Parnevik will play the first two rounds alongside former European Ryder Cup teammates Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam.

The PGA Tour's defunct Tucson Open was played at Tucson National 30 times from 1965 to 2006. Four-time Champions Tour winner Kirk Triplett won the final Tucson Open in 2006.

Fred Couples also is in the field along with Triplett, Colin Montgomerie, Tom Watson, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry and Lee Janzen.

In the tour's last event, Janzen won Feb. 15 in Naples, Florida, for his first Champions Tour title. He beat Bart Bryant with a par on the first hole of a playoff.

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