Seve – Part 2: The Early Successes




Seve. [Photo:]

In March of 1974, Seve Ballesteros made the decision to turn professional and commenced his career as a touring pro. This decision came just short of his 17th birthday, making him one of the youngest golfers to turn professional at the time.


As Seve started off his career, two things were clearly evident.


The first was that he had an extraordinary gift. From his trademark short game prowess to the swing technique that would become iconic over the following decades, Seve’s natural talent was on full display from day one.


The second was that he had a dynamic personality.


As Gary Player described, “He was handsome, he was like a matador, he was a charismatic man; he was the Arnold Palmer of the rest of the world.”


Seve’s main characteristic was his traditional Spanish flare, but he also repeatedly showed his passion for the game of golf. It didn’t take long for followers of the European Tour followers to fall in love with Seve.


His first official European tournament as a pro came at the Spanish Open shortly after. At the time, Seve was the youngest professional to ever play in a European Tour event.


Seve’s first big moment as a professional came at the 1976 British Open, where he led after 54 holes and eventually finished second behind American Johnny Miller but announced himself on a global stage to the golfing world.


Seve entered the final round with a two-stroke lead and maintained a one-stroke lead after the fifth hole, before disaster struck. Seve dropped six strokes over the next seven holes, eventually finding himself eight shots off the pace and effectively out of the tournament.


But Seve earned a lot of respect and admiration with what he did next. Seve made three birdies and an eagle over the closing stretch, which was a terrific response.


Just a month later however, Seve won his first European Tour title. Seve dominated the field at the 1976 Dutch Open, claiming a comprehensive eight-shot victory.


He went on to win for a second time later in 1976, capping off a stellar year that saw him win the European Tour Order of Merit. Winning the Order of Merit before his twentieth birthday, Seve became the youngest player to ever achieve this feat.


From the 1976 season, Seve went from strength to strength and his career started to blossom.


In the 1977 season, Seve added to his win total with another three victories on the European circuit. He racked up wins at the French and Swiss Opens, while also defeating Nick Faldo in a two-man playoff at the Uniroyal International Championship in England.


This led to a second straight Order of Merit win on the European Tour for Seve, who was becoming a huge name on the European golfing circuit. Seve bettered European Tour legends like Nick Faldo in both years.


Seve also recorded wins on other continents during the 1977 season. In November, he won his first Japan Open which marked his first win in Asia. Just two weeks later, he went on to win the Otago Charity Classic in New Zealand which would be one of two career wins for Ballesteros on the Australasian Tour. His other Australasian Tour victory came at the 1981 Australian PGA Championship with a three-shot victory over Australian, Bill Dunk.


The following season Seve became an international star.


Seve won a number of times in 1978 on a number of different continents. He achieved victory in Kenya to begin his year, then won in Japan for his second victory at the Japan Open.


Seve also won his first US PGA Tour event in 1978, marking the fifth continent he had won on by the age of 20. This win came at the Greater Greensboro Open, finishing one shot clear of Jack Renner and Fuzzy Zoeller.





These wins were also topped by four victories on the European Tour, which lead to Seve’s third straight Order of Merit win. This was the cherry on top of a magnificent 1978 season.


These early career successes all showed off Seve’s passion and genuine love for the game of golf. His early performances allowed fans to get to know more about him on and off the course, and the love for Seve started to grow around the world.


Seve possessed a level of flare and exuberance that many golf fans loved about him. These characteristics were evident in Seve both on and off the course, right from the first time he stepped into the public eye.


These characteristics sparked the interest in events such as the Ryder Cup and helped Spanish golf take off as a powerhouse around the world.


Seve qualified for his first Ryder Cup team in 1979, following his stellar run of seasons on the European Tour. Playing under captain John Jacobs from England, Seve and the European team travelled to Greenbrier to face a USA team bosting names such as Lee Trevino, Tom Kite and Hale Irwin.


It was a rather uneventful start to his Ryder Cup career for Seve, who only managed one win from his five matches as the USA recorded a comfortable win.


But this early career success paved the way for Seve to build a successful career.


It was only a matter of time before Seve took the next leap from Professional winner to Major Champion.



To read more about Seve by Connor Schmidtke click HERE 


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  1. I recall Seve winning the 1981 Australian PGA.
    He was a popular figure down under.

  2. Seve is the only man to have won at Alister MacKenzie’s greatest courses Royal Melbourne and Augusta National, as well as at his inspiration St Andrews Old Course.
    He loved Royal Melbourne and played it in 1978 and as runner up to Sam Torrance in the PGA in 1980 before his 1981 success. He was a frequent visitor to Australia in his early career.

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