As surgeons in a Madrid hospital prepare today to operate on Seve Ballesteros for the third time, Ireland’s triple-Major Champion Padraig Harrington paid a heartfelt tribute to Europe’s golfing icon.
Though he has won three of the last six Majors and might eventually equal or surpass Seve’s total of five, Harrington insisted he’d never match the Spanish legend’s exalted status in the game.
And the Dubliner suggested he and other players felt "a certain emptiness now Ä that we missed an opportunity to put Seve where he should be in the European Tour, right at the forefront, as an ambassador and a role model."
Asked about his prospects of winning as many Majors or more than Ballesteros, Harrington said: "I could still win five Majors but they would not be as good at Seve’s.
"I actually think most players would believe he’d won more than five. The tally probably doesn’t do him justice.
"I think Seve was spectacular in how he won Majors. He was so charismatic, he did much, much more for golf than just win five Majors. He’s a bigger person than that. I know he won 87 events around the world but it was the way he did it and the inspiration he gave.
"Having got three, everyone is probably thinking I could manage to get four, five, six or seven and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that would be on my mind at times.
"Obviously trying to win all four Majors would also be out there but I’m not trying to compete with anyone else in that respect and certainly not someone like Seve.
"I’d say every single player on the European
Tour would have grown up watching Seve on TV and being inspired by him," Harrington added.