I For One Will Miss Seve Ballesteros

This week, for the first time since I’ve been watching golf, the British Open teed off without Seve Ballesteros (My all-time favorite player).

By now, most golf fans are aware that earlier this week Seve announced his retirement – an announcement that officially ends one of the most exciting careers in the history of golf. I know, I know — some will argue that Seve’s career was over a long time before this announcement. And it’s been years since Seve played the type of golf that could be considered “competitive.” But I, despite Seve’s lack of performance, always held out hope for one last piece of magic. You know, the kind of magic Jack Nicklaus summoned at the 1986 Masters, where he willed all his talent and experience into one prolific 9 holes.

For me, it’s almost like Beatles fans, and how they must have felt the day John Lennon was killed. Back then, there was the obviousness sadness that came with his death — but also the sadness that came with knowing a possible comeback would never happen.

But alas, Seve made it clear earlier this week that he no longer wants to play competitive golf. At his press conference announcing his decision, he was quoted as saying on the BBC Website:

“I don’t have the desire any longer,” he said. “I have worked very hard from morning to night and put all my energy and effort into the game, focused 100% and I felt that was enough.

“I have a number of good years left and I’d rather spend time now with my three children and my companies and friends.”

Seve Ballesteros with companies? This just doesn’t seem right to me. Seve was born to be on a golf course — not a board-room. Seve was born to use that world-class imagination around the greens — not for profit margins.

I think in some ways, this has led to Seve’s alleged unhappiness the last few years. There’s always going to be something missing in a person’s life when they’re not doing what they’re born to do. And Seve was born to play golf — even if that golf has not been good lately. He has been so unhappy — he had to come out recently to deny an apparent suicide attempt. As reported by Josh Sanburn at GOLF.com, Seve came out with this statement a couple weeks ago:

“Due to increasing rumors centered on me that are being spread out mainly by the tabloid press, I wish to distribute this release to declare and confirm that I am doing perfectly well,” Ballesteros said. “In the past, falsehood about me was let out and I never answered back because I do not speak about my private life. If I do now it is because different twisted statements about my state of health have been circulating.”

Again, Seve shouldn’t be forced to make these kind of statements. Instead, Seve should be making birdies from parking lots or pumping his fist at St. Andrews.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Seve almost single-handedly lifted the European Tour on his shoulders and brought world-wide respect to its brand. His play made it possible for Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer to believe — they too could take on the world.

Also, without Seve’s inspirational golf, the Ryder Cup would not be the spectacle it is today. And it surely wouldn’t be something that causes American fans to wonder — how can we win the cup back? This flow of great players from Europe and belief in their ability as world-beaters — is directly related to Seve’s influence.

Jose Maria Olazabal, His Ryder Cup partner, had this to say when hearing about Seve’s retirement.

“It a very special day,” said Olazabal, who with Ballesteros won 11, halved two and lost only two matches against the Americans, “because what Seve means for golf, in Europe mainly, nobody from a later generation will understand. He has been a real inspiration for me, the best friend I’ve had in my career,” he added. “He was really the master.”

I wonder if younger players really know just how good he was. I wonder if they know how much they owe him for what they take for granted on Tour. I wonder, because Seve was basically done playing world-class golf after 1988, if they understand that for about 10 years, there may have never been a brighter star in the history of the game — except maybe Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods.

This has been somewhat of a sad week for me — because I knew, even though Seve would probably not play well — I would at least get a chance to see him. The BBC would always at least, out of respect, show him hit a few shots. And those few shots would be enough to rekindle some great memories. But of course, with Seve’s announcement, there were no shots of him swinging this week. No more inprobable chips or putts.

And with that announcement, officially comes the end of an era.

No longer will I, an American golf pro, secretly root for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. No longer will I, as much as I respect Tiger Woods, have a hero in the game.

I should have known the end was near, when a couple years ago I had to put my German Shepherd to sleep after a long fulfilling life. My dog’s name was of course — Seve. Truly the end of an era.

I’ll miss you Seve.

5 Responses to “I For One Will Miss Seve Ballesteros”

  1. José Rolz says:

    Seve was more than just a great golfer. He inspired others to rise above their normal level. Evidence of this abounds; but the Ryder Cup matches in 1995 at Oak Hill, in Rochester, N.Y., are a perfect example.

    Way over his prime, his front nine performance against Tom Lehman , when Seve never hit a fairway nor a green in regulation, but still shot level par and was tied with Lehman, was an inspiration to his team mates. Later he dashed around the course giving support to his team mates. The final result was a new victory for Europe.

    About his playing abilities, no one in the history of the game has had a better short game or more imagination to extricate himself from trouble and get the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes.

    And finally, nobody played the game with more passion and gusto than Seve. Golfers around the world will miss him. I hope he stays involved with the game we love in some fashion. He was, and always will be, a superstar.

  2. Joaquin Millan says:

    I cant live this web page to thanks all of you for what you write about Seve… The magic man …The God of golf.. the hero of so many golfers.
    I have tears in my eyes and feel bad very bad ,that in a foreing nations seve is more recognice that in our Spain ,Seve have make so much for golf in Spain .
    I know seve since i was caddie even i was caddie him couple of time and after long time we meet again when i work for him in tenerife in his golf schooll like Director Deportivo and i must say that Seve is so big like Person that like golf player.
    Seve deseo que se te cumplan todos tus futuros deseos y ha sido un enorme placer haber tenido la oportunidad de compartir momentos contigo. Seguro que en un futuro inmediato nos volveremos a ver.
    Cuidate CAMPEON

  3. Lewis says:

    I can’t thank Sevy enough for the magical moments he has given me. For me he was an enormous inspiration to the way I visualised golf. He was the master. I wish him well in his future, whatever he does.

  4. Neri Infante says:

    Thank you, Seve, for the years of pleasure you have given us all by watching you.
    I wonder if you realize what an inspiration you have been to so many of us!
    It would be wonderful if you devoted some time of your retirement to teaching some of us more “mature” golfers.

  5. Ted Exley says:

    Thank You

    What a lovely few paragraphs about Seve, also my favourite golfer of all time.

    He was at his peak when I commenced to play, after my rugby years were through, and I dreamt about emulating him and his fantastic escape shots….But nobody ever could hope to do that !

    For my money, Seve was also the best player around the greens by a long shot. His inventivness was something to behold.

    I wish him all the best of luck for the rest of his life. I can only hope that, at some future stage the European Pro Golfers allow him to take some part in the Ryder Cup programme.

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