Sport Golf

Wednesday 7 December 2016

A fond farewell for golf legend Seve Ballesteros

Mark Garrod

Published 11/05/2011 | 13:56

Javier Ballesteros (C) carries the ashes of his father Seve Ballesteros during the funeral service held for the legendary Spanish golfer in Pedrena, Spain. Photo: Getty Images
Javier Ballesteros (C) carries the ashes of his father Seve Ballesteros during the funeral service held for the legendary Spanish golfer in Pedrena, Spain. Photo: Getty Images
Nick Faldo (R) leaves the funeral service. Photo: Getty Images
(L to R) Chief Executive of The European Tour George O'Grady, Nick Faldo, Roger Chapman, Colin Montgomery and Sam Torrance walk following the urn containing the ashes of Seve Ballesteros at today's funeral service. Photo: Getty Images

An escort of youngsters dressed in navy blue and each carrying a three-iron provided one of many touching moments at the funeral of Seve Ballesteros today.

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It was with a rusty three-iron that Ballesteros first became hooked on golf at the age of seven, hitting stones on the beach near his home in Pedrena.

And it was in navy blue that many of his most memorable victories came, the best of them all his second Open Championship victory at St Andrews in 1984.

A photograph of Ballesteros that day, fist-pumping in sheer jubilation after his closing birdie putt, was placed alongside the urn containing his ashes for the service at the church of San Pedro de Pedrena.

The urn had been brought to the church by a procession led by a piper, then his three children Baldomero, Miguel and Carmen, his older brothers Manuel, Vicente and Baldomero - all of whom became golf professionals as well - and then a congregation containing players, caddies, administrators and even royalty with Spain's Crown Prince Felipe.

Five-time major winner Ballesteros, who died on Saturday at the age of 54 after a three-year battle with a brain tumour, was Ryder Cup captain in 1997 and six more captains - Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam, Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and incumbent Jose Maria Olazabal - were present.

For Olazabal in particular, of course, the tears have flowed since the news came at the weekend. He was the other half of the most successful cup partnership in history - 11 wins, two halves and only two defeats between 1987 and 1993.

Ballesteros' final wish was for the funeral to take place in a familiar setting, open to everyone, in his home village and he said he wanted to be treated "like any other neighbour" during the ceremony.

The procession was also escorted by the Pedrena rowing team and and the predominant navy blue has become not only the colour associated with Ballesteros, but also the Foundation he set up to help in the fight against brain cancer.

With the 400-capacity church packed three big screens were provided so that others could follow the ceremony from outside.

Parish priests from Pedrena, Santander and Suances conducted the service and afterwards the ashes were taken back to his house and placed next to the magnolia tree he had chosen as his final resting place.

The family took the opportunity to thank everyone for the support shown during his long illness and, of course, for their condolences since his death.

Spanish state TV broadcast the event live from the village - population 1,500 - where many homes paraded Spanish flags with black ribbons attached.

A small shrine has started outside the family home, with candles, notes, a pair of golf shoes and even a three-iron being left as tributes.

Every golf club in Spain had a minute's silence and at the Iberdrola Open in Majorca, to where Montgomerie and Olazabal were travelling after the funeral, black ribbons were placed on every flag for today's pro-am and a service was held in the chapel alongside the course.

A minute's silence had also been held at the Spanish Open on Saturday and then 24 hours later on the American PGA, Champions and Nationwide tours.

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