Seve Shaky Now But Holds His Head High

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04 Bay Hill InvitationalIts been 10 years since the name Seve Ballesteros meant much in the golf world. Kids have been born and youngsters have entered college since the name Seve set the golfing public atwitter. Hes 46 now, and though there are a lot of upper-40 players still capable of winning, Seve doesnt appear one of them.
 
He has a back problem, compliments of one of the most voracious swings on earth. For too long he has had to play out of the rough, and the cost of such shenanigans has been high indeed. This week he makes a rare American appearance at Bay Hill ' if the back will let him. He was to appear at Doral a couple of weeks ago and had to pull out of that tournament because the back just wouldnt allow a proper turn.
 
Back difficulty is the universal ailment of golfers everywhere. But this one is pretty severe ' enough that it may be career-threatening. How is his health now? Not very good - not very good, to be honest, he says.
 
You have to be objective, and you know when you are not feeling well, you know that things are not going to happen by themselves or by miracle. There's nothing, there's no miracles and there's no - the only thing that I believe in is work. If you work hard on yourself, you can do it. But because of the lack of my physical conditions, I haven't been able to practice as much as I'm supposed to, and that's why I know that my expectations are not very high.
 
Its a sad thing when the ailment says no, but your desire says yes. Ballesteros was such an unbelievable talent when he first came out of Spain in the '70s. He was nothing but a legend in the 80s ' the late Payne Stewart used to go into a bunker and try to Seve the ball ' hit some sort of miraculous shot that would defy all the obstacles in the balls path. And Seve still has the overwhelming desire to play ' he and Arnold Palmer will be on a golf course somewhere when the end comes, and they will be happy.
 
He will subject himself to shooting scores in the 80s. He will subject himself to last-place finishes if necessary. But what he wont subject himself to life without golf. That is simply unthinkable to Ballesteros.
 
I love the game, I love the competition, he said. And golf - it's my life.
 
Thanks to golf, I have what I have and what I have achieved and I'm very grateful to the game. That's why I would like to continue and play. Look at Gary Player at 68, Jack Nicklaus, 67, still limping around the course and shooting under par and doing very well Arnold Palmer, those people. I think the only reason is we love the competition, we love to compete and we love the game.
 
It seems such a shame that he could be staggering on the ropes for the last time. Only 46, and already on his way out? Not if he can help it! But if he is forced by health reasons to leave the world of competitive golf, he can stand straight and look back on a career that has nothing but storybook endings.
 
I don't continue to show anything to anybody or to prove anything to anybody, says Seve. I enjoy the game. I think it's a great game, I enjoy to compete, I enjoy the competition and just to be out here and be able to play, it's fantastic.
 
I mean, it's just on top of that, if I play well, that's great! But if I don't, I always feel when I play a round of golf, I feel that I produce a few shots that, you know, under a lot of pressure and makes me come back the next day.
 
The syntax is slightly fractured, but the intent is unmistakable. Hes still the same guy who used to battle Paul Azinger in those great Ryder Cup matches, who once captained the Europeans to victory in the Ryder Cup, who won two Masters and three British Opens. And ' the thought of quitting the game has never, ever crossed his mind.
 
Quitting? he repeated incredulously. No. I will die like a soldier with my boots on.
 
No. No, I think the white flag is the last thing you're supposed to put up, and I think that's the easiest way to go.
 
Ballesteros has determined that he isnt going to take the easy way, clutching his back and hobbling to the locker room. He will make do solely on his terms. And his terms, he says, is never.
 
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