Seve on the Range at Ballybunion

By Brian HewittOctober 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
Doctors have told Seve Ballesteros he has a brain tumor. They have said they will not know whether it is malignant or benign until Tuesday. Imagine what kind of wait that must be.
 
I will be thinking about this gallant, and sometimes vexing, Spaniard until that time. And I will be rooting, along with the rest of the golf world, for the tests to come back in his favor.
 
Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros won more than 80 events worldwide, including five major championships. (Getty Images)
Until then, I will be thinking about all the wondrous things Ballesteros did with a golf club in his hand. His action was so natural that, at the end of his career, the teachers he asked for help balked at the idea of throwing anything mechanical into his magical mix. He didnt so much swing golf clubs as he waved them like wands.
 
I am being careful to talk about his golf game, but not him, in the past tense. He has retired from competitive sport. There were back problems, among other issues, that forced him to quit way too early.
 
Fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal visited him over the weekend and reported that their conversation went well.
 
There is hope that Ballesteros will live through this crisis. In any event, the memories of what he could do on golf course will survive long after his time to leave this world comes.
 
My favorite Ballesteros story ' and every golf writer worth his weight in semicolons has one ' comes from the 2000 Irish Open which was played, that year, at historic Ballybunion.
 
It was early evening on the range and Europes best were working on their games on the practice ground. Bernhard Langer was being precise. Colin Montgomerie was being fastidious. Everybody was in their own world.
 
Down at the far right end of the range all the Irish locals ' and I mean all of them ' were gathered to watch Ballesteros. He was hitting drivers all of which were describing beguiling trajectories. And after each one arced into the distance two things happened:
 
The Irish spectators behind the ropes, huddled and warm under their coats, murmured approval. That would be followed by brief appraisals by Ballesteros, his caddie and his brother ' all chattering simultaneously in rapid-fire Spanish ' about each shot.
 
Even if I could have understood Spanish that day, I somehow dont think I couldve comprehended what Ballesteros was trying to say. But the Irish and I knew the language and the picture of genius when we heard it and saw it even if we couldnt translate it or copy it.
 
Jack Nicklaus said the best single golf shot he ever saw in his life was the 230-yard, 3-wood Ballesteros launched from under the lip of a fairway bunker and onto the 18th green at the 1983 Ryder Cup played at PGA National.
 
Seve Ballesteros was a savant but not an idiot when it came to golf. His competitive fire burned almost as brightly as the smile that lit up his darkly-handsome face after conquering yet another major championship.
 
I wonder, while he waits, if he knows how many people are also waiting, hoping and praying for him.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Golf Channel Amateur Tour
  • Getty Images

    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

    Getty Images

    Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

    The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

    The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

    Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

    A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

    Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.

    Lexi, Finau 3 back going into final QBE round

    By Associated PressDecember 9, 2017, 11:58 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. - Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry shot an 8-under 64 in modified alternate shot and shared the lead Saturday with Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair going into the final round of the QBE Shootout.

    McDowell (Northern Ireland) and Lowry (Ireland), the only international players among the 12 teams at Tiburon Golf Club, began to erase a five-shot deficit with an eagle and birdie on the opening two holes and they dropped only one shot all day in blustery conditions.

    Stricker and O'Hair started the back nine with a pair of bogeys, rallied with three straight birdies and then dropped one last shot from the bunker on the 17th.

    The teams were tied at 18-under 126.

    Lexi Thompson, the lone LPGA player in the field, teamed with Tony Finau for a 66 that put them in the hunt going into the final round. Thompson and Finau were three shots behind.

    McDowell and Lowry tied for ninth in the World Cup last year. They grew up playing Irish junior golf and appreciate the difficulty of alternate shot, even the modified version when both players hit tee shots.


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    ''To go out and shoot 8 under in that format in these conditions today, I think it speaks volumes about the fact we're both playing pretty well,'' McDowell said. ''We both had an opportunity to hit some good shots out there today and make some good putts, and it gives you a little bit of momentum going in there tomorrow.''

    The format for the final round is better ball.

    Stricker and O'Hair have each won the QBE Shootout, but not as partners.

    Stricker, captain of the winning American team at the Presidents Cup, said he couldn't get comfortable and put O'Hair in some tough spots.

    ''We should have probably been two or three shots better than what we were,'' Stricker said. ''Sean played another good round of golf and made some great putts in there to keep us going, but all in all, we're in good shape.''

    Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele shot 70 and were two shots out of the lead.

    Defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English had a 72 and were tied for last place with Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman, who shot 70. They were nine shots out of the lead.