Sunday, 8 May 2011


It is only right that Fantasy Bob pauses for a moment from the trivial nonsense that he usually posts on these pages to pay tribute to Severiano Ballesteros who died yesterday.  A real great.

Being Spanish, Seve had no chance to play cricket.  Had he done so it is without doubt that he would have been one of the game's greats.  But there were no stumps on the beach at Pedrena where, according to the legend, he mastered the full variety of golf shots that can be played with a 3 iron and many that shouldn't be played at all.  Seve was exceptional from the moment he stepped into the major circuit - he was magnetic and watching golf certainly became less exciting when his talent waned and he finally retired.

Forget the Majors and the Ryder Cups, FB has 3 special memories of Seve.  Although FB used to spectate at big golf events, regrettably none of these memories is drawn from having seen him do something special close up.  But several years ago when FB thought that he might be able to play golf and he was still on an improvement curve, he was an assiduous reader of Golf Monthly magazine and its coaching tips.  A special tip was presented from Seve - grip the club like you are holding a small bird.  This is a very special tip.  it is possibly the most incomprehensible and useless tip FB has encountered - but it is still special.  The proof is that FB who is inlcined to forget his name from time to time remembers it clearly.

FB's second memory is of a shot he saw Seve play on TV.  Not one of those miracle recoveries from behind the furthest Jaguar in the car park to 3ft, or those deft supernatural chips into the hole from impossible hollows.  The tournament was the Volvo PGA Masters in 1991 - almost exactly 20 years ago.  Seve needed to birdie the last to tie Colin Montgomerie and force a play off.  His drive went left off the fairway and his ball nestled deep in the grass.  Without too much ado he looked at his ball looked at the flag looked up again smiled at the crowd who were all around him said 'I'm in trouble, eh?'   Without all the pacing and sighing that poisons golf these days, he took a 5 iron from his bag, addressed the ball and swung hard.  The crowd went silent as the ball arced away finishing close to the target; he turned to them still smiling and said, 'Pretty good,  huh?'  No arrogance, no flashness, no pumped fist, no spitting.  A rapport, enthusiasm and conviction.  Test Match Quality.  (Seve went on to win the competition).

The third memory is not of Seve but of the course he designed at Westerwood near Cumbernauld.  FB played it shortly after it opened in the early 1990s.  It was huge - the flags were just too far away from the tees, fairway markers seemed like mile posts.  But FB remembers the signature hole - apparently a feature of all his courses - with a heart shaped pond in front of the green.  By some miracle FB succeeded in keeping his ball out of the pond.

So, God bless Seve and all his achievements.  what a pity he never tried cricket.


  1. One of the marks of a great sportsman is their ability to inspire people, who previously had no interest in their particular game, to follow or participate in it. Another pointer is that they can be known and recognised by their Christian name alone. Seve was one of those and cricket's loss proved to be golf's gain. We shall never forget him.