However, there are a few players who would have given a lot, if not everything, to have been confined to ‘barracks’, locked down with limited access to public conveniences. Seve is the first player who comes to mind.
Ironically, he would have been 63 on Thursday, the first round of the Masters this year. One of the reasons why Seve loved the Masters so much was because the week invariably fell across his birthday, meaning he would get to start the week with the Champions dinner, a very select group of guests indeed. He had been a member of the club since his 1980 win, and arguably was one of their most treasured members.
Which is really something when you consider relations between the European Tour and US PGA Tour were very different back then, with the European Tour regarded as little more than a mobile country fair, with no real names coming out of the continent in the early eighties.
The last European superstar was Tony Jacklin.
The Ryder Cup was about to change and become the continental competition we now know it as, where prior to the inclusion of Europe, the GB&I teams just got drubbed, every time.
Then came Seve. Nobody had seen anything like the flair he possessed, the charisma oozing from every pore and a competitive streak which would become the stuff of legend. Lifting European golf to a new height and then the Ryder Cup to the same level if not beyond.
He has left a legacy which will be impossible to emulate; when you look at the most influential players Europe has given birth to in the following 40 years, every one falls short when measured against his record of wins, his weight of personality, leadership qualities and sheer audacity of exciting shot making and a never say die attitude. You were never safe against him, no matter where he was on the course.
Famously, the great Arnold Palmer wasn’t excluded from his competitive genius in the World Matchplay Championship walking up the eighteenth at Wentworth. He stood one up in the match and might have been forgiven for feeling that he was going to progress to the next round. With his ball just off the front edge of the green, in two, and Seve somewhere out of sight, right and in the trees and about to play his third shot. All Arnie could do was wait for Seve’s shot to be played. He then heard contact twice, the shot being hit and the ball hitting the flag and going into the hole. The King missed his eagle chip and then was dispatched on the first extra hole of the play-off. Almost every player Seve came up against has a story which they tell their Grandchildren about, about the time they played against Seve. He never flinched in competition, ever.
Even when he was fighting his final battle with brain Cancer (he succumbed to the disease in May 2011) he was able to speak to the European Team prior to the September 2010 Ryder Cup and rouse the spirits in Montgomorie’s Team room, so much so that every player in that team felt like they were playing for Seve. He wasn’t well enough to be at the Ryder Cup that year and it would prove to be his last living influence on the Ryder Cup. A better sports story referencing leadership and respect within the game of golf must be a tough find.
Seve died at age 54, and as I said would have been 63 last week. A cruel departure, too soon and such a loss. He was an idle for many and inspired generations of Juniors into the game. My golfing heroes are Jack, Tom and Seve, if pushed for a forth Bernhard would probably get the nod.
Fiona (my wife) asked me to write an uplifting story for this week’s article. I know that this isn’t exactly what she had in mind but I hope that when it’s put in perspective of us having to wait seven months to watch the Masters, it eases that particular discomfort a little?
Stay safe and healthy and patient with one another!