Seve Ballesteros has taken time out from his battle to recover from brain surgery to send a moving message of support to everyone connected with this week’s Royal Trophy.
It was Ballesteros’s vision and energy that led to the annual match between Asia and Europe being launched three years ago.
He is at home in Bilbao recovering from four operations to counter a brain tumour discovered after he collapsed at Madrid airport two months ago.
But his nephew, Ivan Ballesteros, said since being discharged from hospital Seve had helped to select the European Royal Trophy Team and wanted to be kept informed about how arrangements for the third Royal Trophy were progressing.
At a Press Conference to introduce the teams and the competition sponsors, Ivan read a message from Seve expressing his regret at not being able to attend this year's Royal Trophy - and vowing to return for the 2010 match.
Seve's message read:
I hope you are all well and enjoying the opening ceremony of the Royal Trophy 2009. Even though I am not there with you today, my heart and my thoughts are with you.
I would like to thank you all for the many messages of support that I have received from so many of you. Believe me, all of those messages have helped me very much in my recovery and rehabilitation process. I am now at home recovering and will keep fighting with all of my heart to win my most difficult match. I hope to see you next year, defending the Royal Trophy as Captain of the European Team.
This is already the third edition of the event that was born in 2006.
I really believe that this competition can help Asian golf to grow as The Ryder Cup has done in the past with European golf.
I am receiving news every day of how things are going and I am aware that tournament is looking very good.
From here I want to thank His Majesty the King of Thailand for his support and his donation of the Trophy. I also would like to thank all of our sponsors, Amata Spring Country Club, the players and both Captains.
My special thanks to José Maria Olazabal for taking the role of European Captain. José Maria is not only a great champion, but one of my best friends.
I will keep an eye on the event as I watch it on television here in Spain. I hope you all enjoy the event, and may I take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy and happy new year.
Thank you very much and good luck, all the best from your friend,
That prompted an emotional response from Olazábal, who was Seve's partner in the most successful pairing in Ryder Cup history.
He said: "I have seen Seve a few times over the last few weeks, and he is actually doing very well considering what he has gone through with all the sugery to his brain
"His spirits are very high, and he is really working hard on doing everything he can to make a complete recovery. He needs to get a little bit stronger, but he is thinking of things he will do when he is healthy again. So far, the news is very, very good.
“The last instruction that I received from Seve was to win The Royal Trophy,” continued Olazábal.
“Seve showed how good he was as a player and then as a Captain. I will try to follow him. These eight guys in my Team are great players and I’m positive that we will win which is our goal.
“I have every confidence in my players. They have shown they can play great golf under the gun but we respect the Asian team. It will be a tough match.”