Prayers for Seve

By Brian HewittOctober 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
The Comebacker this week is all about the great Spaniard, Severiano Ballesteros, and his battle with a brain tumor that has him in stable but guarded condition in a Madrid hospital.
The response has been overwhelming.
Without further ado:
Jim writes: As an amateur golfer given the gift of a beautiful natural swing of my own, I could have worked my life away trying to emulate the swings of golf greats from all time to improve my game. But there was only one spirit of a man that I would ever want to follow as a golfer; that would be Seve. I will draw strength from watching him battle his new adversity.
The Comebacker
Whether Ballesteros passes on tomorrow or 30 years from now, that spirit will live on.

Adele writes: I have only recently taken up the game of golf. My almost 27 years of marriage to a golf nut; subsequent birth of two sons, now 23 and 26, both crazed golfers, has exposed me to loads of golf talk, recounted golf rounds, and hours of golf on TV. I know about Seve Ballesteros from the men in my family, and now I know something more about him from you. I would like him to know that as a Christian, my first priority will be to pray for his doctors, their wisdom and skill, and for him, and his knowledge of our great Healer, Jesus. I will pray for his family and their support, and for his many fans and their prayers and faith. May God bless you, Mr. Ballesteros, and may His love and grace shine on you brightly.
The Comebacker
Amen to that.

Albert writes: Jack, Tiger and Arnie (are) all great golfers, but at the end of the day the dynamic, dashing Spaniard named Seve entertained us in a way we may never see again.
The Comebacker
Palmer and Ballesteros, in their primes, were the only two players I would ever choose to describe as dashing.

Cole writes: I ask that all golfers do as our foursome did yesterday before we teed off. We raised our drivers as sabers and touched them, in honor and prayer for Seve, our Spanish Warrior. We ask that all golfers worldwide do this! Imagine the power we'll send Seve.'
The Comebacker
Consider them raised.

Jan writes: I have seen Seve playing and being Ryder Cup captain, sometimes far from smooth and in deep trouble on the course and around. One thing: He always gave it all and never backed off. Seve Ballesteros came to win. He will win this one. Cheers, Seve'
The Comebacker
Would loved to have seen Ballesteros and Woods going head-to-head at the peak of their games.

Sharon writes: Dear Mr. Ballesteros: Youre in my thoughts and prayers. (Fourteen) years ago I had a brain tumor, hemangeoblastoma on my cerebellum. I didn't play golf before my brain surgery, but a month after surgery I just had this desire to learn. My husband was so happy about this; we play a lot of golf together. God's going to take care of you. Please let me know how everything goes.'
The Comebacker
The golf world waits.

Jeff writes: Seve Ballesteros, you are a fierce competitor and I expect you to win this most important battle just as you did on the golf course in your heyday. He is the original master of the short game, a master of the moment, multiple major champion and his Ryder Cup match play gamesmanship and play will always be remembered. And most importantly he is a gentleman. Easily one of golfs all time greats! Get well, my friend. Seve, you are in our prayers! Long live Seve!
The Comebacker
To be sure, Ballesteros was born to play Ryder Cup golf.

Dan writes: I'm a retired FBI Agent. A seizure caused me to retire in 2002. A CAT scan and MRI disclosed that I had two brain tumors. The four days before they could be diagnosed were by far the most emotionally and fearfully difficult days of/in my life. Both, thank God, were diagnosed as benign. One was removed; the other was not, due to it's location in my brain. I wish Ballesteros the best and if you could pass on this little bit of encouragement to him, I would appreciate it.
The Comebacker
As I said, the response has been overwhelming.

Mark writes: I had the great opportunity to watch Mr. Ballesteros at the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill. Seve had driven his ball into the right rough on the very difficult par-4 fifth. To hit his second to the green from approximately 165 yards away, he would have to hit over a pond and over a very large tree that guards the dog-leg. I was about 20 yards away assessing the shot and figured that Seve would have to chip back to the fairway and hit his third to the green. I could not see the ball in the rough. Seve, then proceeded to hit a 9-iron or wedge over the tree and onto the green, and I stood there with my mouth open. One of the best shots I have ever seen. He walked to the green with a very confident gait expecting to hole the putt'
The Comebacker
With Ballesteros, I have no trouble picturing that story in my mind.

Jackson writes: Seve could make the wedge sing.'
The Comebacker
Short, but sweet.

Micheal writes: Yes, I am saddened by this news of Seve. I have admired him and his wonderful game for years even as he and his team beat the USA in the Ryder Cup. Who could forget his great shot making and his Masters wins.'
The Comebacker
Even his Masters defeats were memorable. Who can forget the ball he rinsed on the back nine that fueled Jack Nicklaus stirring comeback at Augusta National in 1986?

Gary writes: I am English and now live here in Orlando, but the first golf event I attended was the Bob Hope Classic at Moor Park, England. The major reason I attended was to watch both Greg Norman and Seve. After that day it was Seve who got me interested in golf. He seemed to make golf cool for everyone that wanted to play and had never had any real reason to do so. What a great player, man and entertainer. Seve made the Ryder Cup what it is today; lets hope we see him at the next and many more Ryder Cups for years to come'
The Comebacker
We can hope.

Ken writes: What a scary announcement about one of the greats to ever play our fine game of golf. Seve was one of the best shot makers the game has ever seen and I really enjoyed watching him make par or birdie from everywhere, but the fairway. He was also one of the fiercest competitors to ever lace up a pair of golf shoes. My prayers are with Seve and his family.'
The Comebacker
Amen, again.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Seve Ballesteros Photo Gallery
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    After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

    I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

    Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

    The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner

    On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

    After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

    Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

    The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray

    On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

    The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

    Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

    That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard

    On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

    The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there. The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell

    Getty Images

    Nature calls: Hole-out rescues Bubba's bladder

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 2:20 am

    LOS ANGELES – Clinging to a one-stroke lead, Bubba Watson had just teed off on the 14th hole at Riviera Country Club and was searching for a bathroom.

    “I asked Cameron [Smith], ‘where's the bathroom?’ He said, ‘On the next tee there's one. Give yourself a couple more shots, then you can go to the bathroom,’” Watson recalled. “I said, ‘So now I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.’”

    By the time Watson got to his shot, which had found the bunker left of the green, his caddie Ted Scott had a similar comment.

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “When he went down to hit it I said, ‘You know you haven’t holed one in a long time,’” Scott said.

    Watson’s shot landed just short of the hole, bounced once and crashed into the flagstick before dropping into the hole for an unlikely birdie and a two-stroke lead that he would not relinquish on his way to his third victory at the Genesis Open and his 10th PGA Tour title.

    “I looked at Teddy [Scott] and said, ‘You called it.’ Then Cameron [who was paired with Watson] came over and said I called it. I’d forgotten he and I had talked about it,” Watson said.

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    Bubba Golf takes long road back to winner's circle

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 1:55 am

    LOS ANGELES – Bubba’s back.

    It’s been just two years since he hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour, but with a mind that moves as fast as Bubba Watson’s, it must have felt like an eternity.

    Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds.

    He admits that along that ride he considered retirement and wondered if his best days were behind him.

    “I was close [to retirement]. My wife was not close,” he conceded. “My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She's a lot tougher than I am.”

    What else could he do? With apologies to his University of Georgia education and a growing portfolio of small businesses, Watson was made to be on the golf course, particularly a golf course like Riviera, which is the canvas that brings out Bubba’s best.

    In a game that can too often become a monotonous parade of fairways and greens, Watson is a freewheeling iconoclast who thrives on adversity. Where others only see straight lines and one-dimensional options, Bubba embraces the unconventional and the untried.

    For a player who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, it was a perfectly Bubba moment midway through his final round on Sunday at the Genesis Open. Having stumbled out of the 54-hole lead with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6, Watson pulled his 2-iron tee shot wildly right at the seventh because, “[his playing partners] both went left.”

    From an impossible lie in thick rough with his golf ball 2 feet above his feet, Watson’s often-fragile focus zeroed in for one of the week’s most entertaining shots, which landed about 70 feet from the hole and led to a two-putt par.

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “His feel for that kind of stuff, you can’t go to the range and practice that. You can’t,” said Watson’s caddie Ted Scott. “Put a ball 2 feet above your feet and then have to hold the face open and then to swing that easy. That’s why I have the best seat in the house. That’s the essence of Bubba golf.”

    There were plenty of highlight moments on Sunday for Watson. There were crucial putts at Nos. 11 (birdie), 12 (par) and 13 (par) to break free of what was becoming an increasingly fluid leaderboard, and his chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th hole extended his lead to two strokes.

    “It was just a bunker shot, no big deal,” smiled Watson, who closed with a 69 for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

    A player that can often appear handcuffed by the most straightforward of shots was at his best at Riviera, withstanding numerous challenges to win the Genesis Open for his 10th PGA Tour title.

    That he did so on a frenzied afternoon that featured four different players moving into, however briefly, at last a share of the lead, Watson never appeared rattled. But, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case.

    Watson can become famously uncomfortable on the course and isn’t exactly known for his ability to ignore distractions. But Riviera, where he’s now won three times, is akin to competitive Ritalin for Watson.

    “[Watson] feels very comfortable moving the ball, turning it a lot. That allows him to get to a lot of the tucked pins,” said Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth after moving to within one stroke of the lead early in round. “A lot of guys don't feel comfortable doing that and they end up accepting a 15 to 30 footer in the center of the green. He ends up making a lot more birdies than a lot of guys.”

    It’s the soul of what Scott calls Bubba Golf, which is in simplest terms the most creative form of the game.

    Watson can’t explain exactly what Bubba Golf is, but there was a telling moment earlier this week when Aaron Baddeley offered Watson an impromptu putting lesson, which Bubba said was the worst putting lesson he’d ever gotten.

    “He goes, ‘how do you hit a fade?’ I said, ‘I aim it right and think fade.’ How do you hit a draw? I aim it left and think draw,” Watson said. “He said, ‘how do you putt?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘well, aim it to the right when it breaks to the left, aim it to the left when it breaks to the right,’ exactly how you imagine your golf ball in the fairway or off the tee, however you imagine it, imagine it that way.”

    It’s certain that there’s more going on internally, but when he’s playing his best the sum total of Watson’s game can be simply explained – see ball, hit ball. Anything more complicated than that and he runs the risk of losing what makes him so unique and – when the stars align and a course like Riviera or Augusta National, where he’s won twice, asks the right questions – virtually unbeatable.

    That’s a long way from the depths of 2017, when he failed to advance past the second playoff event and dropped outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But then, Watson has covered a lot of ground in his career on his way to 10 Tour victories.

    “I never thought I could get there,” he said. “Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let's be honest. Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know? Somehow we're here making fun of it.”

    Somehow, through all the adversity and distractions, he found a way to be Bubba again.

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    Spieth: 'I feel great about the state of my game'

    By Will GrayFebruary 19, 2018, 1:43 am

    LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth is starting to feel confident again with the putter, which is probably a bad sign for the rest of the PGA Tour.

    Spieth struggled on the greens two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, but he began to right the ship at Pebble Beach and cracked the top 10 this week at the Genesis Open. Perhaps more important than his final spot on the leaderboard was his standing in the strokes gained putting category – 12th among the field at Riviera Country Club, including a 24-putt performance in the third round.

    Spieth closed out the week with a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for ninth, five shots behind Bubba Watson. But after the round he spoke like a man whose preparation for the season’s first major is once again right on track.

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “I was kind of, you know, skiing uphill with my putting after Phoenix and the beginning of Pebble week, and really just for a little while now through the new year,” Spieth said. “I just made some tremendous progress. I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

    Spieth will take a break next week, and where he next tees it up remains uncertain. He still has not announced a decision about playing or skipping the WGC-Mexico Championship, and he will have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to make a final decision on the no-cut event.

    Whether or not he flies down to Mexico City, Spieth’s optimism has officially returned after a brief hiccup on the West Coast swing.

    “For where I was starting out Phoenix to where I am and how I feel about my game going forward the rest of the year, there was a lot of progress made,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to figure out what the best schedule is for myself as we head into the Masters.”