SANDWICH, England – The iconic image of late Spanish golf great Seve Ballesteros will be hard to miss at this week’s British Open at Royal St. George’s.
Ballesteros’ special connection to a tournament he won three times is being commemorated in a flood of tributes by organizers.
Rows of posters of Ballesteros line the entrance to the course, a book of remembrance in his honor is being signed by all competing players and his image will appear on draw sheets throughout the tournament, among other tributes.
Ballesteros died in May at 54 after battling a brain tumor but his memory lives on this week in this southeast corner of England.
“This, of course, is the first Open championship since Seve’s death and we have take the opportunity to make his passing in a number of ways this week,” Royal and Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said. “We think that will just remind everyone as to what a great man he was and his connection with the Open.”
Tournament favorite Rory McIlroy could become the first 22-year-old player since the Spaniard to win the British Open. The 18th green will be surrounded by silhouettes of Ballesteros.
Dawson said the majority of players signed the remembrance book, which will be passed on to Seve’s family as a memento of this year’s championship, and wrote a personal message.
“The thrust of all the messages was what a wonderful inspiration Seve had been to golfers the world over and particularly in Europe,” Dawson said. “Many of them actually said that Seve was their own inspiration to playing golf. He was the guy they all watched when they were kids and so on, and that he was going to be greatly missed.”
The R&A is donating all of the proceeds from draw-sheet sales to the Seve Foundation, an organization set up by Ballesteros in 2009 in partnership with Cancer Research UK to raise money for research into brain tumors.
Ballesteros won his first major title when he won the British Open at Lytham in 1979, making a birdie in the final round after driving his tee shot at No. 16 into a parking lot.
He also won the tournament in 1984 and 1988.