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Seve Ballesteros' son Javier is out to make his mark at Northern Ireland Open

By Peter Hutcheon

Published 06/08/2015

Hard act to follow: Javier Ballesteros will be in action at this week’s Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm
Hard act to follow: Javier Ballesteros will be in action at this week’s Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm

Perhaps even more than Woods, Nicklaus or Palmer, the name Ballesteros carries with it the weight of the game's history.

But it sits easily enough on the shoulders of 25-year-old Javier, son of the legendary Seve, who is embarking on his own professional career which has brought him to the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle this week.

"There's no pressure to having the Ballesteros name - it can only help," he said in Ballymena yesterday.

"My dad won 91 times around the world. No young player just starting out can expect to live up to that, so why should I have to?

"He was a very special player and no-one can take that away. I just have to do things my own way."

Ballesteros turned pro last year - something he says he had wanted to do from a very early age - and is quietly making his way in the game on the European Challenge Tour.

But it wasn't an automatic decision and he knows the name alone counts for nothing in the cut-throat world of professional sport where it is every man for himself.

Following his dad's advice, he studied law at university and, although he has yet to complete his degree, he fully intends to do so.

In the meantime, he says the time is ripe to try his hand at the professional game.

"Being a pro golfer was something that I always wanted to do," he said.

"My dad always told me that pro life is not an easy life, but I always wanted to do it from about the age of 10.

"I'm very happy now to be able to turn pro and give it a go.

"Dad always told me that if you work hard but always go out and try to have fun on the golf course, then things can happen for you.

"So, if I have goals, they are to work hard but have fun as well."

Seve Ballesteros was arguably the most influential player of modern times. In addition to those 91 victories, which included five major titles, he did more than anyone else to turn the Ryder Cup from a one-sided afterthought into one of the top three sporting events in the world. But it was his incredible imagination, as much as his passion for the game, which endeared him to golf fans around the world and the game mourned the loss of a true superstar following his death from a brain tumour in 2011.

His last appearance at the Open Championship, which he won twice, in 2006 at Royal Liverpool, was inspired by his son.

"He was having trouble with his back at the time and he didn't want to play," Javier said.

"The only reason that he agreed to go was that I said I would go and caddie for him and that made up his mind.

"It was amazing to see the love that people had for him and the respect that they had for him. It was very special for me and I am very glad that we did that together."

Javier's best finish so far this season was the Najeti Open in France in June where he tied for 18th place, but he has missed the cut in his last three events.

"I've been working on a few changes to my swing, so I'm not too worried about my game at the moment," he said.

"It's great being back in Northern Ireland. I played the British Amateur at Royal Portrush last year and that was great on a really great course. I love to play on a links course and it is one of the best in the world.

"But I like what I have seen of Galgorm Castle so far as well."

Entry to the NI Open is free, simply register online at www.niopen.co.uk/tickets)

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