Top Ten Seve Photos
One man who will forever be synonymous with The Ryder Cup is European legend Seve Ballesteros, the charismatic Spaniard who competed in eight editions of golf’s greatest team event, as well as captaining Team Europe to victory in 1997.
Here, RyderCup.com looks at some of the most iconic images of Europe’s inspirational talisman from tournaments past.
Seve’s first taste of Ryder Cup action was at the Greenbrier, forming part of the inaugural Team Europe after Great Britain and Ireland expanded to include players from continental Europe – specifically Ballesteros and his compatriot Antonio Garrido.
Then just 22, Ballesteros arrived as Open Champion after his triumph at Royal Lytham & St Annes, but only managed one point as the United States took a dominant 17-11 victory.
Having missed the 1981 contest and once again tasted defeat on American soil in 1983, by the time Seve arrived at the Belfry two years later he was a four-time Major winner and the lynchpin of a strong European team.
Partnering fellow Spaniard Manuel Piñero for all four matches over the opening two days, Ballesteros won three points as Europe took a two-point lead into the Sunday singles, but in this frame he showed the nerves associated with someone watching powerless from the sidelines.
1985 – champagne moment
A long-awaited Ryder Cup victory – the first for continental Europe and only the fourth defeat for the USA in the history of the tournament.
Ballesteros halved his singles match with Tom Kite before Sam Torrance held his nerve to hole the decisive putt and spark wild European celebrations, with Seve seen here spraying his jubilant captain Tony Jacklin with champagne.
The 1987 contest at Muirfield Village saw the birth of arguably the greatest pairing in Ryder Cup history as Seve teamed up with his 21 year old protégé José Maria Olazábal for the first time.
The duo won three of their four matches together as Europe took a commanding five-point lead into the final day.
The 1987 Ryder Cup would prove one of Seve’s finest hours, as the Americans were defeated on home soil for the first time in the history of the competition.
Here, with shadows lengthening, he recreated the iconic celebratory pose from his Open Championship victory at St Andrews after rolling in a crucial putt.
What looked like a straightforward Sunday soon turned into a stressful one for Team Europe 29 years ago, as a five-point lead was eaten up by five American wins in the first seven singles matches.
Perhaps as an insurance policy for just this eventuality, captain Jacklin had held Ballesteros back until the tenth match, and when this putt dropped on 17 his 2 and 1 victory was sealed, and with it the first European triumph in America.
After the 1989 contest ended 14-14 – meaning Europe retained the trophy – the Americans had suffered eight long barren years and were desperate to regain The Ryder Cup when the teams convened at Kiawah Island.
Already a Ryder Cup hero at this point, Seve was especially inspired -albeit in a losing cause -winning 4½ points with this picture demonstrating just how much Team Europe meant to him.
The Ballesteros-Olazábal partnership was once again in fine form in 1991, winning three and halving one of the four matches they played together.
Their remarkable bond extended over four Ryder Cups – during which time they were never paired with anyone else, and only sat out one session – and their incredible record of 12 points won from a possible 15 makes them comfortably the most successful pairing in the event’s history.
With his playing powers beginning to fade, Seve was the natural choice to captain Europe in the 1997 contest at Valderrama, the first time The Ryder Cup was played in continental Europe.
As this picture shows, the role of Ryder Cup captain is fraught with nerves, with the ever-passionate Ballesteros desperate to win the trophy on home soil.
To nobody’s surprise, Seve was a hands-on captain, almost to a fault, as he lived every moment over the course of a dramatic week.
Fittingly for one of Europe’s great Ryder Cup players, Ballesteros crowned his association with the event as a winning captain, cue memorable celebratory scenes.
Europe have not lost at home Ryder Cup since.