Jose Mara Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros (Getty Images)
José María Olazábal has marked the first Anniversary of Seve Ballesteros’s passing by stressing that “somehow the memory of Seve must be there” when Europe defend The Ryder Cup against the United States later this year.
Olazábal, who formed with Ballesteros the most successful partnership in Ryder Cup history, was devastated to lose his great friend when Seve died on May 7 last year following a valiant battle with the cancer diagnosed as a malignant brain tumour after he lost consciousness in Madrid Airport on October 5, 2008.
Now Olazábal, captain of The European Team for the 39th edition of the biennial match to be played at Medinah Country Club on the outskirts of Chicago on September 28-30, says: “Somehow the memory of Seve must be there. We are thinking of the best way to do it. Seve has been a prominent figure for European golf and especially for The Ryder Cup. We will find a way to infuse his great fighting spirit – he made us believe we could beat the Americans.
“In most of the meetings before any Ryder Cup, with everybody around, captain, vice-captains, players, Seve always had the last word. He made it quite clear that the most important thing was not what you said but how you said it. He always managed to convey the core Ryder Cup values: No quitting, being always ready, being capable of facing any adversity, not allowing any outside influences to affect your game.”
Olazábal spoke for everyone when, after Ballesteros lost the one great fight that not even his prodigious courage would allow him to beat, he said: “The best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing for him, although no tribute will ever do justice to everything he did for golf and to everything he gave us.”
Earlier this year at the Masters Tournament, which both Ballesteros and Olazábal each won twice, Ballesteros was remembered at the annual Champions Dinner at Augusta National with Olazábal saying: “The beauty about the game of golf is that as years go by you have the opportunity to share moments and knowledge from people who were there before you.
“Unfortunately, of course, we were not able to talk with this person. I had imagined he would be at Augusta every year and that he would play practice rounds with young players and share his great knowledge and information with them.
“Even though we have video footage of him with his magical shots and those special moments from the trees and chipping around the greens, you actually don’t have the person himself. And that is the great loss that we have in this case.
“He was crucial in the sense that he was my mentor and he made me believe in my abilities. He was always very clear and very positive and made me believe in myself.”
Sergio Garcia emphasised: “Seve was everything to Spanish sports in the 1980s and 1990s, not only to golf. To me he was a great influence; very important. One of my idols. It was amazing not only to spend a couple of days with him around the course at Augusta but to see how all the people loved him and how much he meant to everyone out there.”
Davis Love III, the United States captain for The 2012 Ryder Cup, said: “Seve was definitely the man. It was an education for me playing against Seve because he was The
Ryder Cup at that time. I always tried to have the passion Seve had, the grind-it-out mentality. I always looked up to him.”
Ben Crenshaw, captain of the winning 1999 US Ryder Cup team, added: “Seve just had that aura about him. Always did. He did things with such flair. He just loved competition. My God, he was a maestro.”