Seve – Part 5: The Rise Of Spain

 

Seve. [Photo: www.golfdigest.com]

 

Seve Ballesteros was highly responsible for popularising the game of golf in Spain and right across Europe. His passion for the game combined with his natural flare were consistently displayed on the golf course, leading to increased interest in golf, a game which had previously been dominated by American golfers.

 

As an individual, Seve was an incredible player and his game translated into team competitions also.

 

Seve represented Spain six times in his career between the World Cup of Golf and the Dunhill Cup. He also represented Europe on multiple occasions between the Ryder Cup, the Double Diamond International, the Hennessy Cognac Cup, the Seve trophy and the Royal trophy.

 

 

Seve first represented Spain at the 1975 World Cup of Golf, just 18 months after he made the decision to turn professional. He partnered with Angel Gallardo in the 72-hole stroke play event, just outside of Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Although the Spanish team did not enjoy much success over the week after finishing 36 shots behind the winning American duo, Seve got his first taste of professional team golf and he whet the appetite of Spanish golf.

 

Seve returned to the World Cup the following year at Mission Hills in California. This time partnering with Manuel Pinero in the quest for Spain’s first World Cup trophy.

 

He had enjoyed his first successful year of golf in 1976, recording his first professional victory at the Dutch Open and announcing himself to the world with a second-place finish at the Open Championship.

 

On the tough Mission Hills course, the Spanish team started smartly with a combined two-over par total for the first day. Seve displayed his typical brilliant short game and scrambling prowess, recording a one-under par 71 while his partner Pinero struggled to a 75. The Spanish pair sat in sixth position and three shots behind the leaders, Scotland after Day 1.

 

Seve continued his solid play in tough conditions with a level-par 72, while Pinero impressed with a two-under par 70 to take Spain back to level-par for the tournament heading into the weekend. This was good enough for Team Spain to take the tournament lead.

 

Both the Spanish players continued their consistent play in the third round, shooting a pair of 72s to keep their overall tournament score at level-par also. They were passed by the American pairing of Jerry Pate and Dave Stockton, trailing by one-stroke and essentially making the final round a two-horse race.

 

On the back of Pinero’s brilliant final round 68, the Spanish team held on for an impressive two stroke victory to win their first ever World Cup. Seve finished the tournament one-over par individually and partnered perfectly with Pinero to put Spanish golf on the map.

It was a monumental victory not just for the two golfers, but for Spanish and European golf also. In the 23 previous staging’s of the World Cup, only one European team had ever claimed victory with the American’s winning 13 of the 23 editions. In 1958, the Irish pairing of Harry Bradshaw and Christy O’Connor won the World Cup to be that lone European winning team.

 

https://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/world-cup-of-golf/past-champions.html

 

Player such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan had all made multiple World Cup appearances, showing the high calibre competition the European’s had faced over that stretch.

 

This showed why Seve Ballesteros and Manuel Pinero’s victory was so important to the global game of golf, and marked this as one of the defining moments of Seve’s career.

 

Seve returned to the World Cup of Golf for his third straight year in 1977, on another tough course at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Manila, Philippines. He partnered with a different Spanish golfer again, playing alongside Antonio Garrido.

 

For the second straight year, Seve and the Spanish pair were successful and claimed victory by three-strokes over the Philippines team. Seve and Garrido out-duelled golfers such as Gary Player, continuing to pave the way for European success on the golfing scene.

 

What was clear for the golfing world to see in these representative events was not just Seve’s flare and love for the game of golf, but the love for his country and the passion he presented whilst representing Spain.

 

This was a vital reason why the Ryder Cup was expanded from Great Britain and Ireland only, to include players from the entire continent of Europe. This helped to grow the game across Europe, further enhancing Spain’s status in the golfing world.

 

Much of this expansion through Europe can be attributed to Seve.

 

He was so loved right across the world both on and off the course, for his charisma and personality.

 

This bold and fierce personality was a major reason behind the Ryder Cup rivalry between the USA and Europe. The rivalries Seve created translated to some epic Ryder Cup moments as he proudly flew the European flag.

 

 

 

To read more about Seve by Connor Schmidtke click HERE 

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this Connor.
    Seve certainly put Spain on the golfing map.

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