Monday, May 09, 2011


The family of Seve Ballesteros have revealed they dressed him after death in the favourite navy outfit he liked to wear on the final day of major tournaments.
As the tiny coastal village of Padrena in the bay of Santander on the north coast of Spain today begins three days of official mourning before his funeral on Wednesday, Ballesteros’ brother Baldomero said the family had clothed his body in the navy trousers and sweater combination he favoured on his ‘Sundays of glory’.
“I thought it was best, and everybody nodded in agreement” said Baldomero, who offered moving details of Ballesteros’s final moments in the early hours of Saturday, surrounded by his family.
“He said goodbye to everyone individually. We grabbed hands, whispered to us. I told him closely, ‘I love you.’ And Seve replied, ‘I love you, too’.”
Ballesteros’ family have stressed they want his funeral to be a small, intimate affair but it is already acquiring the feel of a state occasion as the world’s media focuses on the final journey of Spain’s most famous sporting icon.
The European Tour will be represented by chief executive George O’Grady and other leading personalities from the world of golf are expected to attend.
In accordance with his wishes, Ballesteros will be cremated at a private location in Padrena with only the family and close friends in attendance. This will follow a service at the local San Pedro parish church.
“The funeral rites will be as simple as those for any neighbour from the village. He was born here and here he will remain,” Baldomero said. “It goes with your personality. Seve is a country boy. We thought it was best.”
Touching though the family’s attempts are to contain proceedings within the narrow confines of the Ballesteros locale, his fame and standing in the game ensured a global response to his death.
The Spanish royal family was among the first to send wreaths and messages of condolence. King Juan Carlos and Ballesteros first met when Seve became an international sporting figure in the 1970s
The Spanish prime minister offered state recognition with a tribute of his own. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said: “Severiano represented a beginning and an end in the history of Spanish sport. His example paved the way for the extraordinary success our sport is currently enjoying.
“He was the mirror which Spanish athletes who have reached the pinnacle of world sport looked into. Severiano was loved and respected for his great charisma and strength, which he showed until the very end of his life.”
Tributes continued to flow from across the world. Speaking from his home in Florida, his great European contemporary, Bernhard Langer, hailed the spirit in which Ballesteros played golf and with which he fought the cancer that took him.
“We were shocked and scared when he was first diagnosed with the brain tumour but not by the way Seve responded. He fought bravely, just as he lived his whole life bravely. It puts everything into perspective. We don’t know how much time we have,” Langer said.
“We take our health and our time for granted. We really don’t know. This could be our last day. We miss him greatly. He meant so much for European golf, jumped right in there, had his battles and showed the rest of the world that there are some great players in Europe.”
Langer’s sentiments were echoed by Tony Jacklin, who built Europe’s early success in the Ryder Cup around Ballesteros. “It couldn’t have happened without him. He had an aura about him, a charisma. You knew it as soon as you came into contact with him. I only met two people in my life like that. Arnold Palmer was one. Seve was the other.
“The first question I asked of Ken Schofield when I was approached to be Ryder Cup captain was about Seve. I wanted him back in the team. He had been dropped in 1981 over his stance in a wider dispute about appearance money in tour events. He felt very strongly about that. I knew with him in the team we could resurrect the Ryder Cup. And that is what happened. He was incredible.”



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