Stars gather for Ballesteros pro-am

Stars gather for Ballesteros pro-am

Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Casey and Justin Rose were among the stars who took part in a pro-am at Wentworth today to raise funds for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

Ryder Cup captain Olazabal wants to see as many leading lights as possible continue to show their support for the five-time major champion at September’s Vivendi Seve Trophy in Paris.

The Ryder Cup-style event – introduced in 2000 to mark the impact Ballesteros had on European golf – clashes with the third leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs in America.

But Olazabal said: “I think it will be very important to be honest that every two years, with the support of the big names, we make it really big.”

Ballesteros died two weeks ago, but his Foundation was set up soon after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour two and a half years ago and the partnership with Cancer Research UK has already raised about £700,000.

It was hoped to take that over the £1m mark with the “Ole Seve” pro-am and auction that followed at a venue where he won seven times in his career - five World Match Plays, one Martini International and one PGA Championship.

The Tour’s flagship event is being staged at Wentworth later this week and everyone is being asked to wear navy blue on Friday in memory of the great man.

There are also likely to be further discussions during the week on the possible changing of the Tour logo from a silhouette of Harry Vardon to one of Ballesteros.

Olazabal had dared to hope that his former cup partner might be well enough to travel with him to next year’s match in Chicago.

“Now I will try to pass the spirit of him to the team,” he said. “Seve was very special, unique and all we can do is keep his memory alive. I’ve lost a dear friend and we’ve all lost an icon, but he will always be present.

“He was a pioneer in the world of golf, he did things differently, he opened a lot of doors for the next generation, he changed the view of European golf and he made us believe we could compete all round the world.

“I learnt a lot from his attitude on the course – he never gave up, he fought to the end the same way he did with cancer.

“He would never cry over spilt milk. No matter how tough things looked he was always very positive and he would put his energy into changing his odds. You should have seen him exercising in the early stages of his illness.

“And his Foundation was one of his main goals – he wanted to help people in a similar situation.”

Olazabal was delighted by today’s turnout of stars. “It says a lot about what they feel about Seve.

“They realise what he has done for all of us – not just the players, but the game itself and the business companies related to golf.

“For them to make an effort to play here today, that tells you how important Seve was. It’s a simple proof of that.”

Ballesteros’ nephew Ivan, who also worked as his manager, stated: “It’s been unbelievable the support and love the family have received this last week and during the two and a half years Seve was fighting the brain tumour.

“We’ve not been able to answer all the letters and emails – that will take a long time – but it’s been a great help to everybody.

“He was young (54) and he had lots of things to do, but I talk about Seve in the present tense – I still feel his presence.

“He’s one of the few people whose name will be alive forever. He has lots of legacies in the world of golf, but probably the most important is the Seve Ballesteros Foundation. The aim is to raise as much as possible and let’s hope this event continues.”

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