Seve Ballesteros brings Charisma to Champions Tour Golf this week
Only a very few have the magic and stir the golfing public’s emotions. Seve Ballesteros is one of them. He captured our imaginations over 30 years ago when, as a 19-year old, he was the 2nd and 3rd round leader in the 1976 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Ballesteros eventually settled for a 2nd place tie with Jack Nicklaus, succumbing to Johnny Miller’s fantastic course-record-tying final round 66. But a legend was born.
His on-course attitude was that in the swashbuckling style of Arnold Palmer except he seldom hit the ball as well. Ballesteros was one of the longest hitters at his peak and of course was frequently in trouble. But, oh my God, the recoveries were often spectacular, leaving the best players in the world shaking their heads. There has never been anyone in the history of the game who had a better all-around short game than this man. Having learned the game with a single club – a 3 iron – he likely had the best imagination EVER.
His spectacular career of nearly 90 wins worldwide, including 5 majors, was cut short by a horrible back, mainly, and the following swing changes and cures. Always the most natural of golfers, Ballesteros tried to get technical and his game suffered, never to return to it’s former glory.
At the end of his competitive days he played a US Open tune-up event here near Washington, DC, and I went to the course early on a Thursday to follow him for an entire 18 holes. There were just a few handfuls of spectators with him in those dew-soaked early hours. He made eye contact and nodded, seeming to appreciate those of us who perhaps went a little out of our way to watch him put his talents on display, despite those talents being on the decline. He shot an even par round that day that was filled with some great up & downs, making them almost seem easy. I knew I was watching something akin to Rembrandt painting and it still makes me smile to think about it.
Here’s to Seve Ballesteros: Starting with your Champions tour debut this weekend at the fabulous Ross Bridge course on the RTJ Trail, I hope you are able to find enough game to make your Senior golf life enjoyable. Because, no doubt, it will be enjoyable for the many who venture out to watch you play.
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Because of Seve, I will probably watch the tourney this week.
Norman is a whole other story. Besides injuries, he's had his ugly divorce to deal with and he's got his vendetta against the PGA Tour & Tim Finchem, which run the Champions Tour. It's a shame that he doesn't want to play.
On the other hand, if Seve starts playing conservative, then he will lose his charm...
Fact2: Seve doesn't play well anymore so he won't do anything for that tour.
Fact3: It is so interesting to watch great "champions" like R.W. Eaks and Dr. Dirt fight it out. NOT.
That is one thing that is exciting about the Champions Tour is the name recognition of the new players.