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Looking back at Seve's last win

Looking back at Seve's last win

The Mutuactivos Open de España returns to Club de Campo Villa de Madrid for the first time in 23 years this week, but many minds will be focused on the events of 24 years ago.

Seve Ballesteros

In a week when the European Tour starts a new chapter in its history, it seems fitting that we return to the scene where one of our all time greats, the much missed and loved Seve Ballesteros, won his 50th and final event.

Seve's standing in the game had long since been assured, with five Major Championships and a style that transfixed and entertained, but nobody knew when the event started in 1995, that he was four days away from lifting his final individual European Tour trophy.

The two-time Masters Tournament champion was 38 years old and opened with a two under par 70, placing him four shots behind leader Peter Mitchell as the Englishman began the week with a red-hot 66.

Ballesteros was without a win since his German Masters victory a year earlier and he stayed in touch with the leaders following the conclusion of the second round, signing for a five under par 67 to remain four back.

Seve Ballesteros

Heralded as a genius and a trailblazer, Ballesteros was always capable of producing moments of magic and in the third round at Club de Campo the Spaniard did just that, shooting six under par to close the gap on new leader Gordon Brand Jnr to just one shot.

With European Tour title number 50 in his sights, Ballesteros was a competitor to be feared but after three bogeys in the first three holes of his final round, it looked as though he could be forced to wait for his half century of victories.

“The ball seemed to have a will of its own,” he was quoted as saying of his poor start.

However, no one could take advantage and the Pedreña-born star carded a birdie at the fourth hole to ensure he made the turn in 38.

Brand Jnr, the leader, made back-to-back bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes but still held onto the lead at 12 under par with Ballesteros and fellow Spaniards Jose Rivero and Ignacio Garrido breathing down his neck at 11 under par.

Seve Ballesteros

As four players jostled for position at the top of the leaderboard, Rivero and Garrido stole a march as the former holed a birdie at the 12th for the outright lead whilst European Challenge Tour graduate Garrido carded two birdies and a bogey on the home stretch.

Further Ballesteros magic was required to overthrow the leaders with the holes running out; and Ballesteros magic was duly produced.

He birdied the 14th, 15th and 18th holes to beat Rivero and Garrido by two strokes to secure his final victory and third in his home open.

Ballesteros would go on to achieve many more things in the game before his passing in 2011, including captaining Europe to an emotional Ryder Cup victory on Spanish soil in 1997.

With 11 Spanish European Tour winners in the field this week, including Masters Champions Sergio Garcia and José María Olazábal and reigning champ Jon Rahm, the local crowds will have plenty of current stars to cheer on.

But when in Spain, and on the European Tour, thoughts will always be of the man who changed our game forever.

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