Javier Ballesteros believes it will be a proud moment for him and his family when he represents his father Seve in Tuesday’s Champions Challenge at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the latest stop on The Race to Dubai.
The 18-hole showpiece event on Tuesday is part of the 25th anniversary celebrations at Emirates GC, and will see all but one of the past champions face off against each other for a share of the $600,000 prize fund.
It will make for quite the spectacle in the build up to the event and for Ballesteros, standing in for his father, it will be especially important.
“We remember him every day, but moments like these ones are precious, something we will remember for many years. With so many big names in the field, it will be fun to play in the Champions Challenge,” said Javier, who will be accompanied by his mother.
“I am really grateful to golf in DUBAi for remembering my father and for giving me the chance to play,” said Javier, who was just two years old when his father won the 1992 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“I was too young to remember anything when my father won in Dubai, but I do know he liked being here and playing in the tournament which he held in high regard because of its excellent organisation and a particularly pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.”
The pressure to emulate the deeds of his dad may be huge, but Ballesteros junior is committed to carrying on the legacy of a man known for his dashing and imaginative style of play.
“My father encouraged me to play golf and he was my first teacher, but he always told me that studies come first,” said Javier, who made his debut on the Challenge Tour in April last year. “His ways of teaching were pretty simple. He would often say be natural and don’t think too much about swing".
“With every day that passes I enjoy golf more, but I do not plan challenges or set goals. For now I enjoy it, and have fun.”
The fun will begin at 11.20am on Tuesday when Javier joins fellow Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal in an impressive three ball.
World Number One Tiger Woods, the winner of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2006 and 2008, is paired with defending Champion Stephen Gallacher and Fred Couples in the last group which will go out at 12 noon.
Ernie Els, the winner of the tournament a record three times, will join Mark O’Meara and Colin Montgomerie in the second last grouping teeing off at 11:50, while European Number One Henrik Stenson will play alongside Mark James, the winner of the inaugural event in 1989, and Thomas Bjorn.
In another interesting pairing, Rory McIlroy, who at 19 years and 273 days, became the youngest winner of the event 2009, is paired with 1990 winner Eamonn Darcy and Australian Richard Green.
The Champions Challenge, which will see the winner walk away with the top $300,000 prize, will also provide the former champions with a good look at the well manicured course before the main action begins on Thursday, January 30.
Champions Challenge Tee Times on Tuesday, January 28:
11am: Mark James (England), Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Thomas Bjorn (Denmark)
11.10: Alvaro Quiros (Spain), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain), Jose Coceres (Argentina)
11.20: Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain), Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain), Javier Ballesteros
11:30: Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Eamonn Darcy (Ireland), Richard Green (Australia)
11:40: Wayne Westner (South Africa), Robert Jan Derksen (The Netherlands), David Howell (England)
11:50: Ernie Els (South Africa), Mark O'Meara (US), Colin Montgomerie (Scotland)12:00: Tiger Woods (US), Fred Couples (US), Stephen Gallacher (Scotland)