seve calls it quits


….except he’d probably pronounce it hwits.

I was peppered the other day for writing about a decent golfer with a flair for self-publicity but forgive me for writing a few words on a proper golfing hero, Severiano Ballesteros, who called it a day yesterday from playing competitive golf. Fact is his severe back problems and the resulting mental anguish they’ve caused, have meant that he’s been a declining force for years. But from ’79 when he won his first Open to ’97 when he captained the Ryder Cup team to success, he was a golfing colossus.

Nobody who saw it will ever forget that first Open win at Royal Lytham where he famously drove into a car park at the 16th with Nicklaus in hot pursuit just a shot behind. But the kid played the shot of his life by chipping up to 15ft, holed it and won the Championship. The Americans seem to hate him for it; Hale Irwin called him the ‘Car park Champion’. Yeh well we loved mate and what did you Irwin ever achieve over here? Is it just me but I reckon we enjoyed the fact that here was a kid who played golf like we did – in the rough, deep in the gorse bushes in fact anywhere but on the fairway. The difference is he was just magical at recovering, whereas we were crap (well I was). No sweat, heroes have to be good at something.

His second Open win at St Andrews – those marvellous last two holes, punching the air in joy – were perhaps the best moments I’ve ever seen in golf. It was a personal mission of mine to go and see the Open there and I was fortunate to do that when Tiger tore the place apart in 2000 and again in 2005 when Nicklaus retired. What a shame we weren’t able to give Seve the sort of send off big Jack received. As for the rest of his career he won 2 Masters I think and 50 Tour wins but his greatest achievement was in convincing a team of Europeans that they could not only take on but beat the Amerians at the Ryder Cup. He was the one who gave the team a steel backbone which is kind of ironic given his later physical problems.

In recent years his life has seemed to become a series of problems; he seemed tormented at not being able to play like he used to, his marriage collapsed, a friend was killed in a recent car crash, heart scares and recent reports of a suicide attempt which he denies. But maybe he’ll find contentment now that the pressure to do it one more time has been banished. I hope so because Seve, in golfing parlance, you really are el hombre.

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This entry was posted in is it just me... and tagged , , , by Paul. Bookmark the permalink.

About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

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