Home > Uncategorized > Seve, and Irene

Seve, and Irene

Thirty-one years ago, the Open Championship was played at Muirfield, a few hundred yards from where we lived. It was won, for the third time, by Tom Watson, then at the height of his powers. But the great crowds who turned out, in dodgy weather, didn’t come to see him, or even Jack Nicklaus. Most of them came to watch the young guy who had rented a house a few doors along from ours for that week, the defending Open champion and reigning Masters champion, Severiano Ballesteros Sota.  Seve was only twenty three years old at that time, but he had already won sixteen major tour events around the world. Today a golfer of his status would probably hole up in a secret location surrounded by security, but he hid in plain sight, in a three bed house in our street and was noticed on occasion loosening up by swinging a club in the front garden. Nobody bothered him. His privacy was respected and there were no gawpers hanging around. You didn’t have to with him; you could see his aura from miles away.

Irene and I had seen him in action a year before, in the European Open at Turnberry. He had a lousy cold and he didn’t win, but still he carried himself with grace and played with a smile. I remember, he stood on one tee raised above the fairway and he looked around. I’ll swear that everyone in the crowd thought he was looking at them.My late wife was not one to ogle m0vie stars and the like. She had no time for cheap celebrity. But she fell  in love with Seve that day and if she was still around today she’d be inconsolable.

There is much talk in the game of golf of who is or was the greatest player ever. Look at the career record books and you might well say Jack Nicklaus. Make that sort of judgement over a fifteen year period and you would certainly say Tiger Woods. On neither basis would you ever say Arnold Palmer, and yet who do the Americans call ‘The King’? For greatness in sport is more than numbers, it encompasses what you are as well as what you do. That’s why a very few special people stand out from the rest beyond their physical gifts, the likes of Pele  and Beckham, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, Muhammad Ali and Manny Pacquaio,  Haile Gebreselassie and Usain Bolt. And that’s why Seve will always be number one in my golfing book.

When you get to my age, you start to look at the people you’ve outlived. Then, if you have any soul, you understand  that the word poignant, and its many synonyms, don’t go far enough. For deaths as premature as those of Seve, and of Irene, our language doesn’t have a word that conveys adequately the sense of sadness and injustice they evoke.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: