With the Open Championship returning to Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s this year, many have felt the spirit of the late Seve Ballesteros.
The Spaniard won his first Open here in 1979 – when he was tagged the ‘car park champion’, having got up-and-down from a car park by the 16th hole for a birdie in the final round – and then he returned to win the Open here again in 1988 to win again with a display that was more controlled.
Tom Watson describes Ballesteros as a “magician” for the way in which he kept turning seemingly bad holes into good in 1979. “From that moment, people came to realise that Seve was a golfer who could make the unexpected happen,” adds Watson.
“I have never seen anybody with Seve’s passion for the game,” says Colin Montgomerie, “and to this day I don’t believe I have seen another golfer with so much raw, born talent.”
Ian Woosnam joined the European Tour when Ballesteros was in his prime.
“The thing with Seve was that you never knew what type of golf he was going to play,” says the Welshman. “Did he have his straight game on or did he have his crooked game going?
“I have always been a pretty good player out of the trees, but Seve was just incredible. The more you are in trouble the more practice you get! Seve could see shots that other golfers could not see, but then he could play the shots better than anyone too – he had that ability.
“But it was having played with Seve that I really started to believe in myself, because Seve showed me that there is another way to play golf – you don’t always have to hit the ball down the fairway and onto the green in regulation. Seeing how Seve played golf gave me more faith in how I played the game myself, and he showed that you should never give up on a round even if you are not playing well.”
Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, patron of the 2012 Open Championship