A Quick Nine: What will be your favorite Seve Ballesteros memory?

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer
Published on

It's been a sad, sad week in the world of golf. Last Saturday, May 7, we learned about the passing of an absolute legend -- Spain's Severiano Ballesteros -- who succumbed to his long battle with a brain tumor.

Without question, Seve was the most creative player to ever play the game. Simply put, he made the impossible possible. There was no shot that intimidated Seve. Surrounded by trees with seemingly no way out, Seve would just about always find the smallest window to the green and execute the shot to get there. He was a magician, the likes of which golf had never before seen.

Seve's enthusiasm for the game was immense and intense. Long before the Tiger Woods fistpump, Seve excited the crowds with his passion, which he never tried to hide. For better or worse, people either loved Seve or had a strong dislike for him. And those that disliked Seve? They were likely the men scratching their heads at the end of a tournament wondering how the hell they just lost to a guy who spent most of the day playing approach shots from the woods.

Seve was one of a kind and an incredible champion.

All told, he had 91 professional victories, including 50 on the European Tour (first all time in that category), nine on the PGA Tour and a remarkable five majors (1979, '84 and '88 Open Championships; 1980 and '83 Masters).

Few can forget when Seve won his first Open Championship in 1979 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes with a closing 70, a round in which he famously hit his tee shot into a parking lot on the 16th hole yet still made a birdie.

Individually, Seve was amazing. As a teammate in the Ryder Cup? He was nearly unbeatable.

Along with fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal, the pair had an unthinkable 11-2-2 record in the Ryder Cup, making them the most successful partnership in the history of the matches and earning them the nickname, "The Spanish Armada."

All told, Seve scored 22 1/2 points in 37 matches against the United States and was the winning captain at the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain, which was the first Ryder Cup ever held in continental Europe -- fittingly on Seve's homeland.

That old phrase, "gone but not forgotten," has never been more true than in the case of Seve Ballesteros.

With that, we asked our Facebook fans this week to tell us: What will be your favorite memory of Seve Ballesteros?

Here are the top 9 answers we received from you:

1. The parking lot shot at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to help sew up his first major championship in the 1979 Open Championship.

Facebook fan quote:

"Hitting out of the parking lot and birdied the hole. Something most golfers can relate too, a shot way out of the fairway. His reaction was priceless." -- John Davis

2. Seve's, "never give in," attitude toward each and every shot.

Facebook fan quote:

"Two memories that stick with me -- we were following Seve at the old Buick in Westchester C.C. We watched Faldo whine about them raking the stones to the back of the bunkers, but Seve found himself in the middle of the Westchester wilderness. He spent minutes darting here and there to find an opening. Everyone thought he was mad. He approached the ball with such conviction, we knew he was going to make the shot. It had to be the smallest window through the trees and he hit it onto the green. He didn't win, but it showed he never thought he was out of it." -- Dave Jones

3. A shot from his knees, through trees -- with a 5-wood, no less -- on the sixth hole of the Open de France in 1997.

Facebook fan quote:

"His shot on his knees does it for me. Seve was before my time as a golfer, but I will never forget his highlight reel! Waking up on Saturday morning was a very sad moment in my golf career and I thought about playing for him in my Saturday medal. I found myself behind a tree on the fourth and played a shot only Seve would play. I hit the tree when he would hit the green and finished second. RIP Seve, Europe will miss you, I'll miss you, but you'll forever be in our hearts." -- Niall Balloch

4. Some questioned Seve's shot selection, but not this fan.

Facebook fan quote:

"I'm a PGA Professional and I had volunteered to be a forecaddie at the '95 PGA Championship at Riviera CC in Los Angeles. On the hole I was working, Seve hit a tee shot that landed in the trees left of the fairway. I got over the ball before the gallery could get too close, and I stayed over it until Seve arrived. While we were all waiting, I heard the spectators all talking about which way they thought Seve would play the ball to advance it. Most agreed that he would go right of the trees and get the ball back in the fairway, only being able to advance it maybe 40 yards. Right before he arrived, I turned to the people talking and very confidently said, 'I disagree. He's going through the opening in the tree right towards the flag.' The opening was only about 4 feet in diameter, but it was right in line with tbe flag. Many people told me they thought I was crazy. Seve and his brother arrived and they debated in Spanish. After that brief, 'conversation,' Seve grabbed an iron, lined up straight at the tree and swung. He left himself a 5-foot birdie putt! Best shot I ever saw in person, and I called it. He is deeply missed." -- Gary Gentile

5. The respect he commanded from spectators and, more importantly, his fellow competitors.

Facebook fan quote:

"It's not the swing, the victories or even the swagger. It was the way that other players and the crowds looked at him -- pure respect and love. RIP Seve. Well played." -- David Wayne Baugus

6. His Ryder Cup captaincy at Valderrama Golf Club in 1997.

Facebook fan quote:

"Valderrama '97. Captaining in his homeland. Seve was everywhere encouraging, advising and inspiring. As the rain fell, Seve lifted that famous trophy. I was there, I was drenched, and I shall never forget. RIP, Great man." -- Peter Bleksley

7. His imagination and execution of shot that many couldn't even dream of hitting, let alone attempting.

Facebook fan quote:

"Simply that he imagined shots that would occur to very few golfers (especially in a professional tournament). Then he would actually pull them off. Golf is a whole lot less imaginative with his passing." -- David Presley

8. Seve's charisma.

Facebook fan quote:

"The emotion he showed whenever he won. Every win was like winning for the first time for Seve." -- Brian Uhlmann

9. A memorable encounter.

Facebook fan quote:

"I was a member of the media covering the Greensboro PGA tourney around 1980. A phone call came in from a journalist in Spain who wanted to interview Seve. He didn't speak English and no one could understand him. I'm able to speak a little Spanish so I gave it a shot. I told the journalist Seve was on the course, but I would give him a message to return the call. Not confident about my Spanish, I wrote two notes. One in Spanish and one in English, although Seve's English was only marginally better then my Spanish. I taped them to his locker. After his round I checked with him to see if he understood the notes. He was incredibly warm and friendly and assured me that my Spanish note was good enough that he understood it perfectly. He seemed genuinely touched that I had tried to communicate in his language and thanked me profusely for my time and effort. He was already an international phenom by then and could easily have brushed me off with little more than a nod. Instead he treated me as an equal and showed me great respect. He was a true gentleman, as nice off the course as he was a fierce competitor in the fairway. This interaction had a big impact on me and will always be my best memory of this great ambassador." -- Terry Williams  

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