April 1, 2009

Seve Still Swinging Hard In His Fight With Brain Cancer

Even if you "hated" Seve Ballesteros, you had to love him.

Spain's Seve Ballesteros was a guy who could bring conflicted emotions, especially when one was rooting for the US side in a Ryder Cup event. Ballesteros was the killer, a gamesman, the guy who could hit it in the woods, be stymied against a tree and still figure out how to drop the ball within birdie range, and not only that, he'd be inside the approach shot of an opponent laying aside the 100-yard marker out in the middle of the fairway. Coupled with José María Olazábal , he was part the most successful duo in the history of the Ryder Cup with 11 wins and two halved matches out of 15 pairs matches.

At the same time, despite being a diehard partisan for "my" US team, I just loved Seve. It was impossible not to. Seve was a master magician in a trainwreck.

He was a gentleman and an ambassador for golf all around the world, and when he was working his magic, he drew all eyes in his direction. Seve won five majors; The Masters in 1980 and 1983, and The Open Championship in 1979, 1984 and 1988. And he won them all in style. He won on the European Tour fifty times. Not only that, he was a master at match play, he won the World Match Play Championship five times.

In Seve, I saw nearly everything I'd read about Walter Hagen -- no lead was safe when he was in the chase, no lie too bad for him not to advance his ball and put it in a good spot on the green, and like Hagen, Seve was an extroverted character who seemed to be flamboyant in everything he did, either on or off the course.

Recently though, Seve undertook his toughest match and is playing his toughest course: he's fighting brain cancer, and he's going through all of the pain and suffering that goes with fighting that dreaded disease. Still, somehow, he's still Seve, in that his outlook seems to be preternaturally upbeat and hopeful. He is a man who is who he is, and that will serve him well as he works towards regaining his health.

In an interview with Spanish sport daily Marca published Wednesday, Seve said his fight with his cancer was “the most important shot of my life” and said he was “fighting to win my sixth major.” He also outlined plans by saying “my first hope is to get back to normal. After that, a course in Santander. That has been my dream for a long time.”

If I were to walk into a Ladbroke's branch and place a bet on the outcome, I wouldn't bet against him. In fact, I'd plop down a fiver on a new Seve course in Santander being a masterpiece.

Special note: When I say "hate" I mean "sports hate" -- meaning you were a fan of the other side or the other team. Real hate, c'mon, there's too much of that already. I don't really hate the NY Yankees, for example, or their fans. I did rather disliked them beating my Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series, however. That's what I mean, just so we are clear.


  1. How wonderfully legendary is Seve?

    I love that 1980 Sports Illustrated cover that says "The Youngest Master".

  2. Guilty as charged. I never actually hated Seve, but I 'disliked' him for a long while. Eventually, if you are a golfer and enjoy watching golfers compete, not just hit shots, ya gotta love Seve!

    Could you imagine a seniors Ryder Cup with him, Jacklin and a few others versus our stick in the mud 'Champions'...???

    I hope he recovers 110% and quickly.


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