THE TRAGIC and premature passing of Seve Ballesteros has already prompted an awful lot of very sad, very poignant and very beautiful tributes.
He was the Arnold Palmer of the European Tour, inspirational, charismatic, a legend; all of those things and more.
One of the best lines I have seen or heard is one that I noticed on Twitter. It read: “How many amateur golfers in the world have been in the middle of the trees and said: ‘Time for a bit of Seve magic’?”
While he probably would not want to be remembered as a player who spent much time off the fairways and greens, that remark is a reminder of the improvisation that helped make him so well loved, and goes some way towards summing up what a role model he was.
He is best remembered as the truly great champion that he was. It wasn’t just the five Majors, or his great Ryder Cup pedigree, or even the record 50 European Tour titles that he amassed; it was also his enormous personality.
He was every bit as charismatic behind the scenes as he appeared to his adoring fans.
VERY DEAR FRIEND
I was on the tour before him and after him, so I have been lucky enough to live through his whole career and watch this genius at work.
I also played on seven Ryder Cups with him, and what a delight and an honour that was. One of my favourite memories of Seve is from the 1980 Australian PGA Championship, which I probably still regard to this day as my best individual win.
And the reason for that was because I played with Seve and Greg Norman in the last two rounds and beat the pair of them.
Seve had won the British Open for the first time the previous year. And when we came off he said to be: “You’re very tough to beat.” Coming from someone like Seve, that was just incredible and it gave me a lot of confidence.
After that I came home, I won the Irish Open a few months later, made my first Ryder Cup in 1981 and my career took off from then.
I’m not saying it was all down to his words. But it certainly gave me a lot of belief.
I feel like I have lost a very dear friend. Golf, however, has lost something much, much more.