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Ballesteros legend lives on through Seve's son

By Kevin Garside

Some will see it as a sign, the invisible hand of Seve ensuring the name Ballesteros is on a trophy the week before the 39th Ryder Cup. The great man took his leave 16 months ago but lives on in the DNA of the European team and of his son Javier, who claimed a prestigious Spanish amateur title in Madrid at the weekend.

The Ballesteros aura will be all over the coming contest in Chicago, the first since his premature death at the age of 54 after a courageous and public battle with cancer.

The Ryder Cup career of Europe's captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, was shaped through the Seve prism. How else to view a Ballesteros victory by four strokes at the amateur Madrid Open other than as a wondrous omen ahead of the team's first gathering at Medinah next Monday?

Javier, all raven hair and Colgate smile, bears a striking resemblance to his father, to whom he dedicated his victory. At 22, he has yet to determine whether professional golf is for him.

Perhaps it is better that he sticks to law when he graduates from university, for how could he possibly escape the shadow of the father of the European Ryder Cup team? "My father always told me that you have to play with what you got, and that's what I did," Javier said.

"I thought about him a lot during the 18 holes and I dedicate this victory to him and my mother."

Such is the Ballesteros legend, news of the win flashed across the globe. Readers in towns as far removed as Sacramento and Dunedin consumed the developments at opposite ends of the day.

Javier contested his first professional tournament in Barcelona earlier this year, finishing in a tie for 12th. His win on Sunday was over 54 holes and many times removed from the standard required to sustain a professional career.

It is enough, perhaps, that he invoked the memory of his father, teeth ablaze and fist pumping in celebration, on the day Olazabal laid down his own clubs in favour of the non-playing captain's armband.

Olazabal competed at the Italian Open in Turin, contesting all four days alongside three of his Ryder Cup team. Though he shot a 65 on the last day to equal the performance of Francesco Molinari, his form was on this occasion not the concern.

He would have been delighted to see Molinari take the course apart and to witness the return to form of Martin Kaymer, who tied for fifth alongside his personal pick Nicolas Colsaerts.

The Belgian is the only rookie in the European team and made it as one of the two selections available to Olazabal, along with Ian Poulter. "I feel pretty good," said Colsaerts. "I had a fantastic start which was just what I wanted – to go deep under par after only a few holes. Two bad swings broke my momentum, but I finished well, which was what I wanted.

"It helps being able to go through the week in a very cool, calm way, without thinking about qualifying for the Ryder Cup. My goal was to play these two events and keep the good dynamic I've had all year.

"I wish I could have done a little better here, but it's fulfilled the goal of continuing to play well before going to Medinah. I have a lot of good vibes."

Belfast Telegraph


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