Saturday, 7 May 2011

Seve - A Sporting Legend

So, the great man, Severiano Ballesteros, has died. Seve lit up the world of golf like no-one else in my lifetime. Sure, Tiger can lay claim to more titles but Seve won his with a smile on his face. That's not to say he didn't grit his teeth and stick out that Spanish chin when he needed too. He had almost magical powers over that little white ball, he could talk it through the wind and onto the green. He was a natural.

He didn't just inspire a generation, he inspired his country and the whole of Europe. The kid who climbed the wall of his local club to sneak onto the fairways knew what he wanted to do and boy did he do it.

To mockingly call him a car-park golfer is to misunderstand the way he played. His flashes of brilliance were sometimes tempered by wayward shots that would necessitate another flash of brilliance. He was never dull to watch and had a game that so many would dearly love, though sometimes it seemed that his will got him round in under par..

I've been playing this stupid game since I was in my twenties. It's a much loved hobby. More than a social occasion - I like to win, who doesn't - but not the burning passion that it was for the great man. To be that good you have to be dedicated - and have that little bit of something special. I don't know where that comes from. Some say God. But what kind of God would give Seve that talent and then throw brain cancer at him?

I prefer to think that the something special comes from within the person. Even as he faced his darkest hour he could still will himself on; no-one thought he'd make it as far as he did.

He wasn't by the book, he was a self-taught master. A few years ago the BBC used him as a roving reporter at The Open. He wasn't much of a reporter he was too interested in the golf. But I'll never forget the moment when - after a viewer had emailed a question about why golfers wear a glove - Seve was asked the question: "Why did you wear a glove".
He shrugged, "I saw everybody else wearing one". It was the same with all his golf. He didn't need to know why, he just did.

A true great, an inspiration to so many and someone who only ever needed one name: Seve.

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