Seve's call fueled Euros at Celtic Manor

May, 7, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A large poster of Seve Ballesteros alongside countryman Jose Maria Olazabal hung in the European Ryder Cup team room all week at Celtic Manor last fall, and Padraig Harrington recalled just how inspirational a phone call from the Spanish star was on the eve of the matches.

As the golf world reminisces about the legendary Ballesteros, who passed away early Saturday, Harrington recalled the conversation he and the rest of his teammates had with Ballesteros on the Tuesday night of Ryder Cup week in Wales.

"It was very emotional and inspiring," Harrington said Saturday after the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship. "You could sense the passion he had for the Ryder Cup. Everything on his mind was us winning that Ryder Cup.

"It was tremendous, to be honest. His main focus that week was the Ryder Cup and not himself. It was definitely inspiring and very emotional. There were definitely a few tears in the room."

[+] Enlarge
Padraig Harrington
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesPadraig Harrington said Saturday that of the many things that owe their stature to Seve Ballesteros, the Ryder Cup and European Tour are certainly near or at the top of the list.

Ballesteros was unable to travel to the Ryder Cup due to the health issues associated with brain cancer. But everyone on the European team was well aware of the Spaniard's legacy. The team prevailed by one point.

"The Ryder Cup wouldn't be what it is without Seve," Harrington said. "There's no doubt he was an inspiration to all who played around him."

And Ballesteros was a factor in the decision to expand the Great Britain & Ireland team to all of Europe. He had won the British Open and Masters in 1979 and 1980, and continental Europe joined GB&I for the 1979 matches. Ballesteros played that year, but not in '81 and returned again to be part of the 1983 squad.

The Americans eked out a narrow victory in '83, but lost the next two matches. Ballesteros played on four winning teams and also captained the winning 1997 team. He posted a record 50 European Tour victories.

"And in a short career," said Harrington, noting that Ballesteros last won in 1995 before he turned 40.

His legacy?

"The European Tour," Harrington said. "He won five majors, but there's no doubt he set the standard. He inspired the players of today. The European Tour is very strong at the moment. Every one of those players on the tour would have been influenced by Seve. That's what his legacy is. Would our tour be as strong? Certainly not."

Bob Harig covers golf for He can be reached at

Bob Harig | email

ESPN Senior Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?