It has been three-and-a-half years since he passed away and 17 since he led Europe a famous victory at Valderrama but the spirit of the late, great Seve Ballesteros lives on in the Ryder Cup according to Thomas Bjorn.
For many, Seve was the man who changed the Ryder Cup. His successes as an individual were instrumental in the GB&I team being expanded in 1979 to include Continental Europeans, whilst his charisma, competitiveness and will to win inspired his teammates in the eight matches he played in.
Such was his influence, the shirts and bags of the European team at Medinah two years ago bore his logo, whilst the gigantic grandstand horseshoeing around the first tee this year carries a quote from him.
“He lives with the Ryder Cup more than anything but he lives with us as a team." - Thomas Bjorn
He might not be with us in person any more but Seve’s presence lives on in the match with which he was so inextricably linked and that, according to Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, is just the way it should be.
“Seve lives with us,” said the 43-year-old, who makes just his third appearance in the match this week. “He lives with the Ryder Cup more than anything but he lives with us as a team.
“He’s a huge inspiration to this team and he always will be. For us as a tour and as players, he is the most inspirational guy that’s ever been. I was lucky enough to play with him and be around him when he played. You couldn’t have a man that stood for more of what European golf is all about. He lives with us forever.”
Seve had an impressive record in the Ryder Cup as a player, winning 20 of his 37 matches. Together with compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal, he also formed one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the match. They played alongside each other 15 times, winning 11 of those and halving another two. Little wonder, then, that Seve is hailed as one of the most important players in the history of the match. That’s an assessment Bjorn – who was captained by Seve on his debut in the Ryder Cup in 1997 – is more than happy with.
“He deserves to be that person that inspires this team and inspires ever golfer around the world,” added the Dane. “When you start going around the golf course and seeing pictures of him and quotes of him, you know it’s not only about the 24 guys playing golf this week. Seve is everything to European golf and we will always remember that.”
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