Parnevik was born in Botkyrka, Stockholm County, and is the son of Swedish entertainer Bosse Parnevik. At age 15, Parnevik spent 10 days in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and developed an appreciation for life in the United States; he later moved to Palm Beach County, Florida, to attend Palm Beach Junior College in Lake Worth on a golf scholarship.
Parnevik turned professional in 1986 and scored four wins in his early years on the European Tour. Based in Florida, he joined the PGA Tour in the mid-90s, subsequently winning five events. His playing career also includes three Ryder Cup appearances (1997, 1999, and 2002) and two runner-up finishes in The Open (1994 and 1997). His career best world ranking of seventh, which he attained on 14 May 2000, was the highest world ranking achieved by a Swedish golfer until Henrik Stenson reached the top five in February 2007.
In late 2000, Parnevik underwent hip surgery at the persuasion of Greg Norman, who had undergone similar surgery.
Parnevik finished second in the Valero Texas Open in October 2007, losing to Justin Leonard in a playoff. In 2009, after a tie for 17th at the SAS Masters in Sweden, Parnevik underwent further hip surgery in Vail, Colorado, United States, which cut short his 2009 season on the PGA Tour. He also cited the hip injury as the reason for his withdrawal from the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament ("Q-School") in December 2009.
In 2010, Parnevik missed cuts in his first three tournaments and had to withdraw again after a first round 68 at the Northern Trust Open because of an ailing back. He had emergency surgery where it was discovered that he had a broken lumbar vertebrae that could put his career in jeopardy.
Parnevik played the 2011 PGA Tour season on a fully exempt status for his Top 50 All-Time Earnings ranking. He was allowed to reuse this one-time exemption after being able to play only five tournaments in 2010. He played the 2012 and 2013 seasons on a Medical Extension after suffering a severe injury to his right hand in a boating accident.
Plagued by injuries for years, Parnevik staged a comeback on the Champions Tour when he became eligible in 2015. He started 2016 with a tie for third at the Chubb Classic, losing out to former world number one golfers Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples. He got his first win on the Champions Tour in the same year at the Insperity Invitational.
Parnevik is known for his distinctive and eccentric taste in clothes and fashion as well as his playing achievements. His on-course trademark was the upturned bill on his baseball cap. While on the European Ryder Cup team, he received a customized team cap with the Ryder Cup logo on the bottom of the bill instead of the front, so that it could be seen with the bill turned up. He has since stopped wearing the flipped-bill hat, opting for strawhats and visors but retains a flamboyant sense of fashion, such as disco-style purple trousers and other golf apparel designed by Johan Lindeberg. He has been politely described as "eclectic", and has been known to change outfits at the halfway stage of a round of tournament golf. Beginning in 2006, one of his new on-course fashion statements was a necktie worn under a vest. Puma Golf signed Jesper Parnevik in 2014 and he gets credited for his influence on their LUX Golf Appearel Line. Since wearing Puma Clothes he once again wears a custom made and more modern looking flipped bill hat. He is also known to eat volcanic dust as a dietary supplement. Parnevik's nickname on tour is "Spaceman".
Parnevik has an eclectic acting career, including a cameo in the 2007 comedy, Who's Your Caddy, in which he plays himself. An allegedly thoughtful historian in his free time, and a man with varied tastes, he was recently asked with whom he would like to have dinner. He quickly replied that it would have to be a choice between Albert Einstein and Elvis Presley. When told he could only have one, he shot back, "OK, Elvis Einstein."
Parnevik is credited with having introduced fellow professional golfer Tiger Woods to Swedish au pair Elin Nordegren (previously employed by Parnevik), whom Woods would eventually marry. Parnevik subsequently stated in 2009 that he regretted his responsibility for this introduction after reports of Woods' infidelity surfaced that year.
Parnevik and his family starred in a reality TV show, Parneviks, which aired on TV3 in Sweden for two seasons 2015–2016, giving insights into his life in Florida. His oldest daughter Peg Parnevik has a career as a pop singer.
Parnevik has a waterfront home in Tequesta, Florida.
European Tour playoff record (0–1)
PGA Tour playoff record (1–1)1988 Ramlosa Trophy, Odensa Open (both Sweden), Open Passing Shot (France)
1990 Swedish Open International Stroke Play
1997 Johnnie Walker Super Tour
CUT = missed the half-way cutMost consecutive cuts made – 11 (1995 Open Championship – 1998 Open Championship)
Longest streak of top-10s – 2 (1999 Open Championship – 1999 PGA)
DQ = Disqualified
"T" = tied
AmateurEisenhower Trophy (representing Sweden): 1984, 1986
St. Andrews Trophy (representing Continental Europe): 1986
ProfessionalEuropcar Cup (representing Sweden): 1988 (winners)
Dunhill Cup (representing Sweden): 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997
World Cup (representing Sweden): 1994, 1995
Ryder Cup (representing Europe): 1997 (winners), 1999, 2002 (winners)