In deference to the formidable competitive spirit of his close friend and Ryder Cup comrade, Seve Ballesteros, who passed away in May of last year, European team captain José Maria Olazabal has made space for at least two low-key tributes to the five-time major champion during this week’s festivities.
Firstly, and most conspicuously, each of Europe’s team bags (see above) will carry a silhouette of Ballesteros in triumphant salute (an image derived, of course, from his grandstand finish at the 1984 Open Championship).
A more poignant gesture of commemoration is apparently scheduled for Sunday afternoon, when the European team will don navy and white in an attempt to emulate Ballesteros’ marginally more adventurous take on Gary Player monochrome.
Tentative confirmation of the above was offered by Paul Lawrie, but his captain has thus far proven unwilling to divulge details of further plans, saying only:
“You know, it’s going to be – Seve is going to be there in our team in some way or form. I have to say in that regard that I talked to Davis regarding that question [of Seve] and he was very understanding of it, and I’ll say no more at the moment.”
Justin Rose had a little more to say on the issue of Seve-as-motif during his press conference this morning:
“You know, it’s fantastic that José Maria is the captain, and you know had Seve been around, I’m sure he would have been a big part of this team. It’s nice that he is still a big part of this team.
“I did get to know Seve well. He was one of the few guys, I would say, when I was struggling on Tour when I first turned pro, he was one of the few guys to put his arm around me in a sense, more metaphorically, but just to give me some words of encouragement.
“I remember my first Masters, actually, he just said well done — because my first Masters was a breakthrough for me. I had turned pro and gone through some struggles and then achieved some success to get there. There’s some video footage somewhere of me chatting to him and my mom meeting him and you can see my mom blushing and stuff.”
Apropos of nothing other than the occasion, here’s a video of (Sir) Nick Faldo struggling to discuss Ballesteros’s Ryder Cup legacy during a Golf Channel telecast. It makes for powerful viewing.