Seve on the Range at Ballybunion

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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.
 
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