While the vast majority of the 25th anniversary chat about the ’86 Masters this week has focused on Jack Nicklaus’s against-the-odds charge to victory, for European fans of a certain vintage that year’s tournament is nearly as memorable for another reason. Severiano Ballesteros’ pull-hooked approach to the fifteenth in the final round of that year’s tournament marked the beginning of the Spaniard’s long retreat from the high watermark of the his dynamic, Masters-winning best.
A player who thrived on talent, ingenuity and an often naive belief in the permutations of Fate and Destiny, Seve never quite recovered from that moment, a reversal of fortune so severe, so utterly inexplicable in his view, as to completely change the way he saw the game and his place in it.
Today is Seve’s 54th birthday and, as such, a wonderful opportunity to ponder the full scale of the contribution made to the game by Europe’s greatest golfer. Not only were his victories frequently among the most compelling the modern game has witnessed, but his most painful defeats managed to carry an emotional heft that transcended golf and drew close to the raw, universal stuff of sporting tragedy.
Seve remains the player most indelibly marked by both the best and worst the game has to offer: a living, breathing testament to the potential of a life spent inside the ropes, aswell as the psychological, even physical, toll it’s capable of exacting.
In that spirit, enjoy a compilation of some of Seve’s finest moments: