Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Charisma, spellbinding play lasting memory of Ballesteros' career

If you ever saw Seve Ballesteros play golf in his prime, you haven’t forgotten it.

He played golf with a rare passion and imagination, unlike anyone in today’s game and like few others ever.

When Seve announced his retirement from competitive golf Monday at Carnoustie, his game had long ago faded away, leaving him to chase balls out of bad spots, unable to summon the magic that once marked his game.
But his impact was enormous.

At his best, Seve was spellbinding. He attacked the game and the course, winning five major championships in a career that can’t be judged solely by the trophies he won.

Seve reached beyond the scores he shot. His impact was in how he played and how he changed the sport.

Ballesteros was Europe’s Arnold Palmer.

He never seemed to grasp the notion that American fans and journalists admired his style while remarking about his ability to make pars and birdies from seemingly impossible places. Seve seemed offended by the remarks but he shouldn’t have been.

Perhaps that’s why he apologized to writers Monday for any times when he might have been rude or gruff and there were some of those.

He was brilliant around the greens and had a movie-star charisma about him as he marched around golf courses, his brow creased.

When he smiled, Seve could light the world.

His legacy may ultimately be his effect on the Ryder Cup. Before Seve, it had become an exhibition, neither competitive or emotional. He made it both.

Seve breathed fire into the Ryder Cup while inspiring a generation of European players who altered professional golf’s global landscape.

He called it a career Monday.

It was a great one.

Ron Green Jr.