So Long Seve, Thanks for Everything

The end, when it eventually came, was anti-climatic, messy, an affront to the irresistible force of the career that came before.

Seve had finally held his hands up and acknowledged that nobody, not even him, could fight off the ticking of the clock. In reality we knew it had been over for some time. Out of contention for over a decade, not for Ballesteros the gentle decline of the seniors circuit.

For Seve, perhaps more than any other golfer, it was all or nothing. His game, his body, had nothing left to give. His heart, monitored and probed on a hospital ward, finally had to be ruled by his head.

At the press conference announcing the end Ballesteros seemed bereft. Golf, for sure, seems a more desperate place without him.

Ken Schofield, who as chief executive of the European Tour guided the million pound industry that the Seve factor created, called him “our Arnold Palmer.”

It is a fitting comparison. Like Palmer in America, others would come in Seve’s wake and match or better his feats. But, like Watson and Nicklaus and Woods in the States, Faldo, Lyle, Langer et al would perform on a European stage that Seve built. Arnie’s Army never lost their passion for the man who started it all: in Europe, for all the applause that greeted Faldo, Woosnam or Montgomerie, the galleries still pined for a flash of the genius that began it all.

Faldo would out major Seve. But it was the temperamental Ballesteros who seemed to talk to us more. In his pomp Faldo’s genius was to never play a bad shot. Seve’s genius was to do the impossible to recover from the wayward drive that would have tamed lesser men. Faldo was the functional 1960’s Coventry Cathedral, Seve was the beauty, romance and flaws of Gaudi’s unfinished Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Woosnam, Lyle, Faldo, Langer. Greats all. But none of them learnt the game on the beach using a stick as a club. Seve offered something exotic as well as genius, as if we could never quite relate to the immortal that walked among us.

We can imagine Jack Nicklaus admiring the flawless iron play of Faldo, the laid back artistry of Lyle or the competitive fires that burnt in Woosnam. But surely it is only Seve that could ever have left the Golden Bear purring over the “greatest golf shot ever” as he was at the 1983 Ryder Cup.

Europe won 19 majors from Seve’s seminal victory in the 1979 Open to Paul Lawrie’s play off triumph at Carnoustie in 1999. Seve claimed five of them. Other players have won more, yet Seve had the wizadry of an artist, an innate ability to astound and astonish that perhaps defies any measure of quantity.

Would it not have been better for Seve to finish at Carnoustie? To have exited stage left with applause ringing in his ears, to have, like Nicklaus, that one last taste of acclaim and worship. Perhaps. But, in truth, the ghosts of his brilliance will forever tread the greatest stages in golf. Seve wrote his own scripts, finally he has chosen to fade to darkness. All we can do is applaud the genius that God gave him and he, in turn, gave us.

2 Responses to “So Long Seve, Thanks for Everything”

  1. Clive says:

    :cry:I can only echo the words of your correspondent and offer my own personal thanks to Seve for all of the excitement and sheer joy that his exploits on the courses of the world and in particular my local links at Lythm. It was indeed these emotions that gave me the urge to take up the game when I realised that my football playing days were over and by doing so gave me the chance to fill a void in my sporting life. I hope that somehow the great man gets to read this in which case I would say from the bottom of my heart, Adios SEVE grasias, y byos con Diaz mi Amigo,

  2. Don Bennett says:

    I think time should be called on the Seve Trophy too. The great mans contribution to golf & our enjoyment should rightfully be marked by an event to rival Jack Nicklaus’s or Byron Nelson’s tournaments. Stage it in Seve’s homeland to show our appreciation of a master.

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