By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- The game of golf lost one of its larger-than-life characters last year when Seve Ballesteros died after battling brain cancer. But European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal felt the loss of his mentor and abiding friend more than most.
Olazabal vividly remembers playing with Ballesteros in his first Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village. The two won three of their four matches in Europe's historic victory, its first ever on U.S. soil.
"I was shaking like a leaf," Olazabal said of the walk to the first tee on Thursday. "It was huge crowds, very loud, similar to what we are going to see here this week. So I kept my head down, and he approached me as we were walking on to the first tee. He looked at me, and said, 'José Maria, you play your game, I'll take care of the rest.' And he did.
"He was a great figure. I think not just for myself, but for the whole European squad, not just that year, but every year that he played in that team. We are going to miss him a lot."
Olazabal made sure the European Team doesn't forget Ballesteros at Medinah. Each player's golf bag will feature the iconic silhouette depicting Ballesteros’ celebration after holing the winning putt at the British Open in 1984 -- a moment the Spaniard once called "the happiest moment of my whole sporting life.”
Ballesteros, who later used the image as his business logo, had the silhouette tattooed on his left forearm. He played in eight Ryder Cups, compiling a 20-12-5 record and winning 22 1/2 points from 37 matches.
Olazabal, who had an 11-5 record with Ballesteros as his partner, feels the tribute allows the five-time major champion to be with the team "every step of the way.
“Seve was an important part of The Ryder Cup because of
the way he played and conducted himself from his opening match in
1979," Olazabal said. "This is the first time since then that he
has not been present in anyway because in 2010 he was able to talk
to everyone via the telephone.
“Seve set a wonderful example to generations of golfers and for me there are many, many memories particularly involving The Ryder Cup. Now the best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing for him and his image will certainly ensure he is alongside us throughout the week.”
During his press conference on Monday, Olazabal declined to answer when a reporter asked him whether the European Team would wear Ballesteros' signature blue and white on Sunday.
"I have to say in that regard that I talked to Davis regarding that question ... and he was very understanding of it, and I'll say no more at the moment," Olazabal said.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – All week at TPC Sawgrass players have been wearing red ribbons on their caps as a tribute to Seve Ballesteros.
The World Golf Hall of Famer died last Saturday after a two-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. Ballesteros’ funeral services were on Wednesday.
Luke Donald, who enters the final round three strokes off the lead, plans to take his tribute one more step.
“Will be wearing all navy for the final round as a tribute to Seve. #legend” the Englishman tweeted between rounds.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Matteo Manassero remembers the first time he met Seve Ballesteros. He was just four years old and was at the Italian Open.
Of course Manassero just turned 18 last month, so remembering his first encounter with the Spaniard isn’t all that difficult.
“Seve made a huge impact on everybody who’s from Italy,” said Manassero, who received a letter from Ballesteros congratulating him on his first win as a professional, which came as a 17-year-old in Spain. With the victory Manassero became the youngest winner in European Tour history.
“If you met him, you never forget him. He was a special person and has stayed in the memory of everybody.”
Manassero is of course already making plenty of memories of his own. He has two career wins and is in the field for his first PLAYERS Championship by virtue of his being ranked in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings -- he’s currently 33rd.
The Italian teen has made just three starts on the PGA TOUR this year with his best finish in stroke-play a tie for 20th at the Transitions Championship. He also reached the third round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
As for how Manassero thinks he’ll fare in his first trip to TPC Sawgrass?
“I like the course, it’s fantastic, everybody knows Sawgrass, it’s a special place,” said Manassero, who added that he intends to split his time between nine or 10 events on the TOUR and 15 or so events on the European Tour.
“This course suits my game because you need to keep the ball in play and the greens are small and slopey. It’s a tough course but if I play a good game I’m going to be okay on this course because I don’t have to hit the ball 320 yards, because I cant.”
The South African flag has flown over the Circle of Champions at TPC Sawgrass for the past 358 days -- commemorating Tim Clark's come-from-behind victory at THE PLAYERS.
But the flag was replaced Sunday morning by the red-and-yellow striped Spanish flag in Clark’s gesture of respect for the late Seve Ballesteros. The World Golf Hall of Famer died Saturday after a three-year battle with brain cancer.
The Spanish flag will fly there until next Sunday when it will be replaced by the South African flag until a new PLAYERS champion is crowned. In addition, the PGA TOUR and PLAYERS flags will remain at half-mast until next Sunday.
Down in St. Augustine, the Spanish flag in front of the World Golf Hall of Fame has been lowered to half-mast. A large framed photo of Ballesteros has been placed in the box office and there is a black ribbon on his locker door. There will be a special tribute to the Spaniard during Monday night’s induction ceremony, as well.
@TigerWoods I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Seve Ballesteros. I always enjoyed spending time with him at the Champions dinner... each year at the Masters. Seve was one of the most talented and exciting golfers to ever play the game...His creativity and inventiveness on the golf course may never be surpassed. His death came much too soon.
@JasonGore49 Lost a hero today. Seve, thanks for the brilliance you showed on the course, and the class you showed off the course. You are missed. RIP
@TrevorImmelman So sad to hear the news of Seve's passing. He is a true inspiration to all of us. #fb
@TheSirNickFaldo My greatest personal Seve moment. 95 RC 18 th green..a bawling Seve hugs me and says.."you are a great champion" ...#tearsdownmycheeks ... Monday 88 Open win.. Seve, the original grip it and rip it day..but with style, flare, passion and grace. glad I had a front row seat!
@BillyHo_Golf Very sad day in the game of golf. Seve was one of the GREATS! His charisma and style of play made him beloved around the world!!
@Oliver_Wilson Few rounds of golf pass without Seve coming to mind. He's the first thing that you think of when facing the impossible shots.
@TheSirNickFaldo Sad day. Seve's passing, I would now call him the Cirque du Solei of golf. The greatest show on earth. I was a real fan
@JustinRose99 Sad to hear the official news of Seve passing away. My thoughts are with his family. The love out there for this amazing, charismatic, courageous, humble man is only fitting. He inspired a generation of golfers.
@ F_Molinari What a terrible news to hear first thing in the morning.. Seve was a superhero for all young golfers, played shots only he could see. RIP… Deep deep sadness
@WestwoodLee It's a sad day. Lost an inspiration,genius,roll model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve.
@Oliver_Wilson RIP Seve. Thoughts & prayers go out to your family. You have left this world a better place. Thank you for the inspiration #Seve #fb
@bubbawatson Seve will be missed, but we will never forget what a great man & golfer he was!!! Praying for his family & friends! #weloveyousev
@peterjkostis God bless Seve.A creative genius who played with the flair of a matador. I feel privileged to have known and worked with him. U'll be missed
@ PaulStankowski Though it's inevitable, it's so sad to see sport heroes pass away...Seve was such a crafty, gutsy and charismatic player...such flair!
@ TheSirNickFaldo 1983 Ryder Cup 1 point loss..Seve storms into team room "we must celebrate this is a win for us"..#changedRCforever let's celebrate Seve
@ RStanleyJohnson Seve Ballesteros R.I.P. A legend have passed away.
@ montgomeriefdn A true legend, the most talented golfer ever. An honour to play with him and under him. You will be forever with us Seve, your friend Monty
@ Graeme_McDowell Seve is in all our thoughts and prayers. One of European golf's shining lights and most charismatic stars is gone but not forgotten. Legend.
@Graeme_McDowell Amazing to read all the moving messages out there about Seve. He meant a lot to the golf world. He was a genius. Very emotional right now.
@Graeme_McDowell One of my favourite lines I have read this morning.... "Apparently God needed a short game lesson....." #RIPSeve
@Luke_Donald My earliest memories if golf: throwing 10 balls around the green in the most difficult lies and trying to get them up and down, pretending to be Seve. I just wanted to be him. You will not be forgotten. #RIPseve
@ TwoGlovesGolf This game has lost a legend! Rest in peace Seve.
@ BillyHo_Golf When you are a kid, you hope that one day you will be able to meet ppl that you grew up admiring. Seve was one of those ppl for me....Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to meet him... RIP Seve.
@ CamTringalePGA What a sad day as Seve passed. He brought so much flair to the game. He will be missed. Thoughts and prayers are with him and family.
@ JhonattanVegas Golf has lost one of his heroes today. Seve thanks for so many great moments that will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace
@ PaulAzinger I'm saddened by the news of Seve's passing. He was the toughest, most passionate, most patriotic competitor I've ever faced.
@ PaulAzinger We had tough RC mtches, a few run ins as well.We talked thru our differncs and remained friends. Whn I got sick in 93,Seve 1 of 1st to call
@ TheChristinaKim It was a difficult day today, with heavy heart over Seve Ballesteros's passing. He was such an incredible source of inspiration for golf
@ ZachJohnson The clever, imaginative, classy and ever smiling Seve is in a much better place. Thoughts and prayers to the Ballesteros family.
@ IanJamePoulter The last time we spoke to Seve was on the eve of the 2010 Ryder Cup. I will remember his words for the rest of my life. Seve RIP
@ webbsimpson Seve is and always will be one of golf's all time greats. Sad loss. What a fighter.
@ geoffogilvy Such sad news about Seve. One of my heroes and earliest inspirations
Players at the European Tour’s Open de Espana honored the memory of Seve Ballesteros with black ribbons pinned to their caps. In addition, players at the PGA TOUR , Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour stops -- the Wells Fargo Championship, Regions Tradition and Stadion Classic at UGA -- will be doing the same to honor the Spaniard.
Seve Ballesteros, one of the most charismatic players the game has ever know, died early this morning after battling brain cancer for three years. Tributes from around the world are pouring in for the 54-year-old Spaniard, who won five majors and 87 titles worldwide. His greatest legacy, though, may be the passion he brought to the Ryder Cup.
Those of us at PGATOUR.COM know Ballesteros’ life struck a chord with golf fans around the world. Please give us your memories below.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He's been on everyone's minds for two years now.
But today? There will be more than a few wishes and trans-Atlantic shout-outs sent to Seve Ballesteros on his 54th birthday.
You can't walk onto the grounds without thinking about the passion, drama and talent Ballesteros brought to the game -- and the Masters. And his absence is palpable.
Battling brain cancer at his home in Spain, Ballesteros hasn't been far from his countrymen's thoughts and defending champion Phil Mickelson honored him by serving paella at the Past Champions dinner Tuesday night.
"All of the past champions are really thinking about Seve," Mickelson said. "Honoring Seve is easy and no big deal. I just want him to know we all wish he was here and we are thinking about him."
The two-time champ has been in focus too because he was an integral part of Jack Nicklaus' 1986 Masters win. Nicklaus had to pass Ballesteros, who still had a chance down the stretch that year. And, even though he's not here, he's still has a page in the player’s guide.
As for the players? The Spanish players have all mentioned him this week. The same for the European players.
"Seve is constantly in my thoughts at Augusta,” Westwood said. “Because Billy (Foster, his caddie) never stops mentioning him, and the stuff he did, and where he got it up and down from when he caddied for him there.
“I’m sure when Billy formulates his game-plan and talks me round, a lot of it comes from what he’s learned from Seve, and the way Seve played it. He’s not so much in my mind, but Billy certainly puts him there. And it can’t hurt, can it?”
And then there was Alvaro Quiros. Friday afternoon, a reporter asked him to wish Ballesteros Happy Birthday. In English, not Spanish.
Quiros looked into the camera and said: "Happy birthday, Seve. Sorry it's in English."
We'll make up for it.
Feliz cumpleaños, Seve.