Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3: Seve Ballesteros

By Randall MellDecember 26, 2011, 1:00 pm

His game couldn’t contain his giant spirit.

Bold and willful, charming and flamboyant, charismatic and stubborn, it all radiated off Seve Ballesteros in his regal marches across St. Andrews, Augusta National and beyond.

With his death from brain cancer on May 7, golf writers around the world searched for words to capture the essence of Europe’s celebrated champion.

With more than 90 worldwide titles, 50 European Tour victories, five major championships, Ballesteros was an inspiration to a generation of European pros who rule the world rankings today.

“America had Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer; Seve was our Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus rolled into one,” said Bernard Gallacher, who captained Ballesteros in three Ryder Cups. “You can’t speak too highly of him. Seve was Europe’s best-ever player.”

In his life, and in his death, Ballesteros was also an inspiration to golf writers.

“He went after a golf course the way a lion goes after a zebra,” the great Jim Murray once wrote.

In stories documenting his death, Ballesteros was remembered by writers around the world. Here’s a collection of tributes from other websites, newspapers and magazines:

Doug Ferguson, Associated Press

Seve Ballesteros was a genius with a golf club in his hands, an inspiration to everyone who saw him create shots that didn't seem possible. The Spaniard's passion and pride revived European golf and made the Ryder Cup one of the game's most compelling events.

His career was defined not only by what he won, but how he won.

“He was the greatest show on earth,” Nick Faldo said.

Ballesteros, a five-time major champion whose incomparable imagination and fiery passion made him one of the most significant figures in modern golf.

Jaime Diaz, Golf Digest

Ballesteros had a different allure from other champions. He was talented in the extreme, but it was the way his glory years in the late '70s and early '80s personified the purity of instinct that made him such a vicarious pleasure. That he would fall prey to paralysis by analysis in the full swing is one of the game's most cruel ironies.

For all his transcendent skill around the green - which he never really lost - what set Ballesteros apart was passion. Whenever he competed, he was all in. The crazy intensity of purpose is what made Ballesteros and Faldo blood brothers in the game, and it's why the Englishman was overcome recalling how a tearful Ballesteros embraced him in victory at the 1995 Ryder Cup and told him, 'You are a great champion.'

Rick Reilly,

As it turns out, there was one jam that Seve Ballesteros couldn't escape.

Ballesteros died early Saturday at 54, from complications of a cancerous brain tumor, but I'll never believe it. In 20 years covering him, I never saw a mess Seve couldn't get out of. He made birdies from parking lots, concession stands, bushes, trees, ditches, weeds you could lose an eighth-grader in, ponds, creeks, flower gardens and even women's purses. I saw him hit shots on his knees, on his tiptoes, stooped over, one-legged and one-armed . . .

He made bogeys that were more thrilling than some guys' eagles. But it wasn't so much what he did with the shot but what he did afterward - leaping, charging, punching unseen enemies in the sky.

Seve was Arnie with an accent. A conquistador in green pants. He was tan and handsome and raw. Emotion poured from his fingernails. He had so many urgent facial expressions, you'd have thought he was on trial.

Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated

They called him El Matador. His handsome face and flamboyant game demanded the nickname of an action hero. Ballesteros would drive balls into trees, into roughs, into galleries, under cars, into villains' lairs. Then he would summon impossible shots that leaped over tall buildings, bounced over traps, rolled up to greens. He would follow with chip shots softer than the housing market, and if the ball dared not drop, he would stare angrily, as if personally betrayed. Birdies, he felt, were his birthright.

Michael Bamberger, Sports Illustrated

He was at home in one place in the United States: Augusta National. He liked the cozy second-floor dining room, where he would have long lunches with family members. He won at Augusta in 1980 and '83, and he was in the Sunday mix another six times, seven if you count '78, when he finished 18th.

Ballesteros became the first European to win the Masters. Seve won by four, with a smart, pedestrian closing round of 72. When he got into the cabin for the traditional winner's interview, the new Augusta chairman, Hord Hardin, asked the new champ, 'Seve, how tall are you?' It was a perfect question for the golfing artiste. He could have answered in Spanish or English, in meters or feet. He could have said, 'As tall as I feel.' He felt the game and he felt life. We could all see that. He made his 54 years count.

Steve Elling,

For the American audience that never saw him play, Ballesteros' style was a cross between Arnold Palmer's magnetism and Phil Mickelson’s improvisational hero shots. The five-time major winner and Hall of Famer was more miraculous with a short stick than Merlin with his magic wand.

John Huggan, Golf World

Genius, it is often said, is an overused word, especially in sport. But Ballesteros qualified, with something to spare. Ever since he learned his golf whacking balls around with an old 3-iron on the beach at Pedrena, the tiny fishing village on Spain's windswept northern coast where he lived all of his too-short life, Seve was the creator of special shots. As far back as the late 1970s - using a persimmon-headed driver and a ball far removed from the turbo-charged missiles of today - he drove the 10th green at the Belfry. His opponent that day, Faldo, could only shake his head in wonder.

Bill Fields, Golf World

His name could be hard for certain tongues to get just right on the first try, but when it came to his golf, Severiano Ballesteros was a universal language, no translation required. Other players had more perfect swings and more even-keel mindsets, but has anybody ever seemed more meant for the game than Ballesteros? In his abbreviated prime - before back problems and swing gremlins took their toll - one only had to watch him for a hole or two to sense his charisma, his command, his creativity. Fairway-wood from 240 yards out of a bunker? Check. Punched 4-iron out a forest, curving toward the target like it was directed by remote control? Got it. Tricky pitch shot with everything on line? No problem. It was singular, inspiring golf that came out of Seve's heart, not from a book.

Chuck Culpepper, Los Angeles Times

At age 8, Ballesteros received a 3-iron that nearly became an appendage. In his youth he would learn every shot using that club alone, and by the time he turned professional at 17 in 1974, his unusual arsenal overrode the leanness of his amateur experience, which included only five annual local caddies' tournaments.

In a whoosh of precocity at 19, he won the Order of Merit as the European tour's top golfer in 1976 and said hello to the planet during a single weekend in July. That's when he turned up at the British Open at Royal Birkdale speaking no English, staying at a bed-and-breakfast, finding a police officer for a caddie and starting off 69-69 to play the weekend paired with eventual champion Johnny Miller and finishing second alongside Jack Nicklaus.

Bob Harig,

Many have likened Ballesteros to Arnold Palmer, who helped bring golf to the masses in the United States and became as beloved a figure in the game as there has ever been. Like Palmer, Ballesteros played with flash and flair. He was popular beyond his golf, connecting with the people, who were mesmerized by him.

As Palmer helped grow the game in the United States, Ballesteros did likewise in Europe. And where Palmer made the British Open popular again for American players, it was Ballesteros who helped energize a continent over the Ryder Cup, making it relevant again.

Getty Images

Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.