Rose recalls Ballesteros memories

Justin Rose last night revealed what having an image of Seve Ballesteros on the bag will mean for Europe’s players — and himself in particular — at this week’s Ryder Cup in Chicago.

While captain Jose Maria Olazabal would not confirm strong indications yesterday that his team plan to wear the navy jumper, trousers and white shirt so associated with Ballesteros in Sunday’s singles, an iconic silhouette of the five-time Major winner is on their golf bags at Medinah.

The image recreates Ballesteros’s most famous pose, a clenched-fist salute to the crowd after holing the winning putt in the 1984 British Open at St Andrews.

Ballesteros captained Europe to victory in his native Spain in 1997 after playing in the biennial contest eight times, famously forming a formidable partnership with Olazabal.

And Rose, who won three of his four matches on his sole previous appearance in the defeat at Valhalla in 2008, has plenty of fond memories of Ballesteros to draw upon this week.

“I did get to know Seve well,” Rose admitted after his practice round. “He was one of the few guys when I was struggling on Tour when I first turned pro [Rose missed 21 cuts in succession] to put his arm around me in a sense, more metaphorically, but just to give me some words of encouragement.

“There’s some video footage somewhere of me chatting to him and my mom meeting him and you can see my mom blushing and stuff.

“Seve was definitely a special character. And one of my favourite memories is winning my first tournament [in America] at the Memorial Tournament, and Seve was the guy being honoured that year.

“A couple of times during that win I had some tough short-game shots and Seve sprang to mind and I was trying to picture how Seve would have tried to play the shot.

“He was definitely with me that week and one of my greatest keepsakes is the book from the Memorial that Jack [Nicklaus] had signed to me, and Seve has also signed to me because I relayed the story to Seve about how I thought of him and he wrote back and I got him to sign my book. That’s something I will cherish forever.”

Speaking about the image of Ballesteros on the players’ bags, Olazabal said: “We felt that this was one way that Seve could be with us every step of the way. This is the first match since he sadly passed away and a fitting tribute to a true champion and a great friend.Seve set a wonderful example to generations of golfers and for me there are many, many memories particularly involving the Ryder Cup.”

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