Seve Ballesteros’ best years were way behind him when I started following professional golf. His greatness was only present in highlight films and the stories people told about him. He was never a great ball striker, but nobody had the imagination and genius he possessed around the greens. Everything Phil Mickelson does, Seve was doing 30 years prior but times ten. He could make birdies from behind trees, and pars from under cars…..(seriously).
Seve got the reverse yips late in his career. Most older golfers still hit is beautifully, but struggle around the greens. Seve never lost his wizardry around the greens, but he couldn’t hit a fairway to save his life.
Nearly three years ago at the age of 51 Seve found a hazard even he couldn’t escape. While at the Madrid airport, Seve lost consciousness and was admitted to a hospital. A few days later he confirmed he was battling a malignant brain tumor. For nearly three years Seve fought the cancer with the same passion and enthusiasm he fought his golf swing but he lost the fight early Saturday morning.
Seve’s passing sent shockwaves through the golf and sports world. Seve was an icon in his homeland of Spain and a hero to a generation of European golfers. I never had the fortune of meeting the man, but he inspired me in ways he could have never imagined. As a lefty, Phil Mickelson was my favorite golfer but Seve inspired my practice routines.
Like Seve, I hit the ball a country mile but often had no clue where it was going. As much as I practiced and tried different things I was always a wild hitter. I realized the only way I could play high school or college golf was to be a wizard around the greens. Late in the evening when most people had left I would drop balls behind trees, under bushes, and every other undesirable spot I could find. I was never Seve, but every time I made an unlikely par I thought about Seve and his will.
When a famous comedian passes, a friend will often say, ‘the world is a much less funny place today.’ With the loss of Seve Ballesteros the world is a much less interesting and creative place today.