Seve Ballesteros died in May from a three-year battle with brain cancer. He was such a strong figure on the game of golf in general and the Ryder Cup in particular that the European team wanted – needed – to do something at this week’s event at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago to honor his legacy.
And so, the Euros bags will be adorned with a silhouette of the fiery and talented shot-maker.
The image, set in blue against a white background, depicts the iconic fist pump Ballesteros jabbed at the air after sinking a 15-foot putt to win the 1984 British Open. It was a defining moment for the then 27-year-old Spaniard, one he called his sweetest in golf, but where he truly made his mark was in Ryder Cup play.
It was and still is Ballesteros who many credit as the player who turned what had been a biennial American romp into an actual rivalry. Pre-Ballesteros, the era between 1927 and 1977 when the Ryder Cup was USA vs. Britain, the Brits were 3-18-1 and hadn’t won since 1957.
That all changed in 1985 when the Europeans, paced by three Ballesteros victories, demolished the U.S. side 16½ to 11½. In eight Ryder cup appearances, Ballesteros posted a remarkable 20-12-5 record. By comparison, Tiger Woods is 13-14-2.
Since that ’85 win, Europe has gone 7-4-1.
Ballesteros, who won three Ryder Cups and played to a draw in another, died last May after a three-year battle with cancer. This being the first Ryder Cup played since his death, fellow countryman and captain of this year’s European squad José María Olazábal felt compelled to honor the man he considers his mentor.
“He has meant a lot to me and to the team, and I wanted to have something that was present for each and every player,” Olazábal explained. “We come up with the idea that it would be nice to have Seve’s silhouette, and so every time somebody gets to grab a club or something from the bag, they can see the silhouette. I thought it was important for us to have Seve’s memory and presence during this week.”
Tuesday afternoon, U.S. captain Davis Love III revealed the tributes aren’t isolated on the European side. On the yardage books issued to the European team, Love included an image of Ballesteros.
“It’s nothing but good about Seve being on their bag,” Love said.
Sunday it is expected that the European side will wear blue and white, just as Ballesteros did, though Olazábal would not confirm that.
“Seve is going to be there in our team in some way or form,” he said.