• Henrik Stenson is the first recipient of the newly named Award
• Award recognises the legacy left to the game by Ballesteros
• Renaming of the award comes in the year when Ballesteros would have been 60
The European Tour is today delighted to announce that the annual Players’ Player of the Year Award has been renamed The Seve Ballesteros Award.
The award is voted for by every European Tour Member at the end of a season and will now carry the name of the legendary Spaniard, who became the first European golfer to win the Masters Tournament in 1980, and who repeated the victory three years later.
The first recipient of The Seve Ballesteros Award will be Sweden’s Henrik Stenson who was the overwhelming winner of the 2016 vote by his fellow professionals at the end of a season which saw him claim his first major title in The Open Championship at Royal Troon as well as win the Race to Dubai for the second time in four seasons.
Stenson said: “Having won the Players’ Player of the Year award once before I know how special this award is. I am truly honoured to be the first player to receive it after it has been renamed The Seve Ballesteros Award. Seve was one of my idols and an icon of the game, which makes it that much more special to receive this from my peers.”
The announcement comes three weeks before the annual gathering for the season’s first Major Championship at Augusta National and was made by European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley at a gathering at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, the venue where Ballesteros won his 50th, and last, European Tour title in the 1995 Open de España. It is doubly appropriate as it also comes in the year when Ballesteros, who died in 2011, would have celebrated his 60th birthday – on Masters Sunday, April 9.
Aside from his Masters triumphs, Ballesteros won the Open Championship on three occasions – at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979 and 1988, and at St Andrews in 1984 – and was also hugely influential in helping make The Ryder Cup the global golfing spectacle it is today.
He played eight times against the United States, winning 22 ½ points from 37 matches, and struck up a partnership with compatriot José Maria Olazábal that, to this day, remains the most potent in Ryder Cup history.
He also went on to become the first player from Continental Europe to captain a Ryder Cup side which he did in his own swashbuckling and flamboyant manner at Valderrama in 1997, leading Europe to a memorable 14 ½ - 13 ½ triumph.
Javier Ballesteros, Seve’s eldest child, who will officially present the award to Stenson during this year’s first Rolex Series event on the European Tour – the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club – said, “On behalf of my brother Miguel, my sister Carmen and myself, I would like to thank everybody at the European Tour, and Keith Pelley in particular, for renaming the Players’ Player of the Year Award as The Seve Ballesteros Award.
“It is a huge tribute to our father which will continue to keep his legacy alive. We are thrilled with the idea that the award voted for by the players themselves will be the one that lives on into the future and bears his name.
“Our father grew up and developed as a player on the European Tour and I’m sure he would be thrilled and very proud of such a recognition.”
It is a huge tribute to our father which will continue to keep his legacy alive.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “No golfer did more to popularise the game in Europe than Seve Ballesteros and it is a great privilege to be able to ensure that his name will live on, on the European Tour, with this award.
“He was one of the most talented and exciting golfers ever to play our great sport and above all he was a players’ player, which is what makes this award even more appropriate. Special thanks must go to Javier Ballesteros who has been gracious and helpful in the discussions we have had in recent months and who is a credit not only to his late father, but to the whole Ballesteros family.
“It is also fitting that the inaugural award goes to Henrik Stenson following his win in last year’s Open – the major championship won three times by Seve himself – and in a thrilling manner at Royal Troon that was reminiscent of the great man at his best.”
The Seve Ballesteros Award – a glittering silver and gold circular plate 46cm in diameter – has the names of all the European Tour members who have won Major Championships, starting with Seve’s own Open triumph at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979, inscribed around the central image which is of his famous fist-pumping celebrations on the 18th green of the Old Course at St Andrews after his Open win there in 1984.
It also has the names of all the previous winners of the European Tour Players’ Player of the Year award inscribed around the outer circle, those being: Padraig Harrington (2008), Lee Westwood (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011, 2014 and 2015), Luke Donald (2012), and Stenson himself in 2013.
Finally, around Seve’s central image is a quote from the European Tour’s founding father John Jacobs OBE, who sadly passed away in January, but whose words sum up how most people in the game felt about the Spaniard: It simply says: “Seve’s supreme talent, flair and passion for golf inspired millions around the world.”