European stars turn out for 'Ole Seve' pro-am to benefit brain cancer work

ole seve caddie bib
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Seve Ballesteros' presence was everywhere during the 'Ole Seve' pro-am, even on the caddie bibs.
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PA Sport

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Published: Monday, May 23, 2011 | 12:41 p.m.

Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Casey and Justin Rose were among the stars who took part in the "Ole Seve" pro-am at Wentworth on Monday to raise funds for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

Ballesteros died two weeks ago, but his foundation was set up soon after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor two and a half years ago, and the partnership with Cancer Research UK has already raised about $1.5 million.

FAREWELL TO SEVE BALLESTEROS

To see our special gallery of images related to Seve Ballesteros' funeral and the tributes to him from around the golf world, click here.

It was hoped to increase that total dramatically with the "Ole Seve" pro-am and auction that followed at venerable Wentworth -- a venue where he won seven times in his career.

The European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship event is being staged at Wentworth later this week and everyone is being asked to wear navy blue on Friday in memory of Ballesteros.

There are also likely to be further discussions during the week on the possible changing of the European Tour logo from a silhouette of Harry Vardon to one of Ballesteros.

Olazabal had dared to hope that his former Ryder Cup partner might be well enough to travel with him to next year's match in Chicago.

"Now I will try to pass the spirit of him to the team," he said. "Seve was very special, unique and all we can do is keep his memory alive.

"I've lost a dear friend and we've all lost an icon, but he will always be present,” he added. "He was a pioneer in the world of golf, he did things differently, he opened a lot of doors for the next generation, he changed the view of European golf and he made us believe we could compete all round the world.

Olazabal was delighted by Monday’s turnout of stars.

"It says a lot about what they feel about Seve,” he said. "They realize what he has done for all of us -- not just the players, but the game itself and the business companies related to golf. For them to make an effort to play here today, that tells you how important Seve was. It's a simple proof of that."

Ballesteros' nephew Ivan, who also worked as his manager, stated: "It's been unbelievable the support and love the family have received this last week and during the two and a half years Seve was fighting the brain tumor. We've not been able to answer all the letters and emails -- that will take a long time - but it's been a great help to everybody."

Olazabal also wants to see as many leading lights as possible continue to show their support for the five-time major champion at September's Vivendi Seve Trophy match-play event in Paris.

The Ryder Cup-style event -- introduced in 2000 to mark the impact Ballesteros had on European golf -- clashes with the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs in America.

But Olazabal said: "I think it will be very important, to be honest, that every two years, with the support of the big names, we make it really big."

The auction portion of Monday’s program featured a Rolex Daytona watch once owned and worn by Ballesteros. The watch, donated anonymously by a "friend and fan," has an official certificate bearing the former world No. 1's name and was worn by him in the late 1990s.

The items also include signed team bags from the 2008 Ryder Cup, donated by Sir Nick Faldo and the Tour Players Foundation, and a three-year full membership at Wentworth. The biggest prize, however, might be the BMW Z4 convertible donated by BMW, the title sponsors of this week’s BMW PGA Championship.