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My Greatest Shot

Seve Ballesteros


My Greatest Shot

When you think of Royal Lytham and St Annes you immediately think of Severiano Ballesteros.

The only golfer to win two Claret Jugs at the course, the Spaniard will forever be remembered in this corner of Lancashire.

And there is a reason they call him the ‘Car Park Champion’ – a badge he wore with honour in his career after his maiden major triumph in 1979.

The back nine at Lytham is infamous and that summer had claimed many a victim.

Indeed, probably the only man to tame it all week had fittingly been Ballesteros, in a second-round 65 that catapulted him into contention.

The 21-year-old had made four birdies in the last five holes that day with his risk-it-all approach and magic around the greens.

Seve Ballesteros Gallery 1

Seve was famous for playing with no fear, a man who never held back and was willing try the unimaginable and, more often than not, pull it off as well.

The 16th hole in that final round came to encapsulate his first major success, and his career as a whole.

The driver had not been Ballesteros’ friend throughout the week; indeed, Seve only hit nine fairways across his four rounds.

The 16th tee shot is a blind one anyway, but once again Ballesteros reached for the big stick, despite having a two-shot lead to protect.

Sure enough, his drive went veering off to the right and ended up in a temporary car park.

The crowds flocked to find it and Ballesteros was greeted with the news his ball had come to rest underneath the front bumper of a parked car.

But that day the rules smiled on Seve, and he was granted a free drop away from the cars in an area with flattened rough due to it doubling as a car park all week.

Guaranteed a good lie, Ballesteros produced a fine pitch to around 20 feet and drained the putt for a birdie.

That prompted Hale Irwin, the third-round leader, to wave the white flag up the last as Seve stormed to his first major title.

It was Irwin who then labelled him the car park champion, but there was no luck involved in Seve’s greatness.

Not unless you count genetics as luck, because he was born to play the game the only way he knew how – and few others could dream to match.

He returned again in 1988 to win once more, but no-one quite summed up Seve like Colin Maclaine, chairman of the 1979 Open committee.

He said Seve chose not to use the course that had been prepared "but preferred his own, which mainly consisted of hay fields, car parks, grandstands, dropping zones and even ladies' clothing."

At the prize-giving, Seve said simply: "I play good from the rough  I have plenty of practice."