Tiger bids farewell to fellow-genius Ballesteros

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Seve Ballesteros was an incomparable prodigy for his creativity with his shots, especially when he got into sticky spots.

On the funeral of the great Spanish golfer, Tiger Woods paid his respects to the once-in-a-generation player.

Ballesteros died of a cancerous brain tumor on Saturday. He will be buried in Pedrena, Spain, his hometown, on Wednesday.

Woods, who was older than Ballesteros by seven months and became the 54-hole leader in the British Open of 1976 at the age of 19, had never had the chance to play against the Spaniard during the peak of his career.

“He would have been so much fun to watch,” Woods said, admitting that he wished he could have played against Ballesteros.

At best, they had had a few practice rounds, with the most memorable one that Woods could recall being the year at the Masters with Jose Maria Olazabal and Ballesteros.

Woods raved about how it had felt too hear Ballesteros share how to get shots out on the Augusta, with the details of how much spin there had to be, where the ball needed to land, and what to do with one’s body, among other things.

Woods conceded that Ballesteros did not look mechanical even though he obviously had quite a number of thoughts about the things he needed to do to get a good shot.

Phil Mickelson, another player well-known for being able to escape from just about anywhere, also reminisced about a practice round at Torrey Pines which he had played with Ballesteros. At that time, Lefty was still a novice.

Mickelson said he enjoyed that chance because he saw the artistry that Ballesteros brought to the game.

Mickelson made a point of sharing the way that Ballesteros played when the pin was cut back and to the right. Typically, players would use a 6-iron or a 5-iron.

Instead, Ballesteros took a 3-iron and made a shot that had the ball land right smack in the green and spins sideways right to the hole.

Mickelson shared how that had opened his eyes to the limitless possibilities of getting out of sticky situations.

Throughout his golfing career, Seve topped a great number of golf tournaments, with five major championships to his name. When he won the Masters in 1980, it marked the first time that a European won the title.

In fact, his being able to continue being the star of the European Tour resulted in the Tour continuing and being shaped into what it is today: a venue for top non-American golfers to hone and perfect their craft.

Ballesteros had also formed a partnership with Olazabal for the Spanish Armada, which garnered many victories for the Ryder Cup.

Meanwhile, Paul Azinger, American golfer Tweeted a description of Ballesteros as the “most passionate, toughest, most patriotic competitor” he had ever faced.

He also added that Ballesteros had been among the first who called him when he got sick with a form of cancer, lymphoma, in 1993. He was greatly remembered as a giver, an encourager, and a teacher both on and off the fairway.

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