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History of The Open

Seve's Greatest Moments


Part One: 1976-1980

Seve Ballesteros Claret Jug 1979

Seve Ballesteros was one of the greatest golfers in modern history, and one of the most beloved characters the game has ever seen.

As part of our series paying tribute to Seve 10 years on from his passing, is taking a look back at 12 of the Spaniard's greatest moments.

Our first four choices include two of his most memorable appearances at The Open. 

1976 | The 105th Open

Although Seve Ballesteros won The Open on three occasions, he arguably made just as much of an impact on the Championship when he made only his second appearance in 1976.

While the 105th Open Championship was claimed by Johnny Miller, it was the 19-year-old Ballesteros’ youthful exuberance and swashbuckling style that stole the show at Royal Birkdale.

After leading at the close of each of the first three days, Seve’s final round, although not a victorious one, proved a perfect microcosm for his exciting career to come.

Four birdies and an eagle were offset with three bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey, and it seemed as though Ballesteros found every blade of grass on the golf course.

It was on the 18th hole where Seve truly cemented his status as a star of the future, bumping an audacious chip between two bunkers to set up a closing birdie and draw level with Jack Nicklaus for second place, after playing his last six holes in five under par.

A superb week brought Ballesteros firmly into the spotlight and it would not be long before he was celebrating his first professional victory.

1976 | Dutch Open

In August of 1976, just one month after his brilliant performance at Royal Birkdale, Ballesteros produced an extraordinary display to win the Dutch Open at Kennemer.

The victory was the first of an eventual 50 European Tour titles for Seve, and the 19-year-old accomplished the feat in true style, beating nearest rival Howard Clark by eight strokes.

Thanks largely to his wonderful play at Birkdale and his success at the Dutch Open, Ballesteros would go on to claim the European Tour Order of Merit that year, still aged 19.

He remains the youngest player ever to achieve that feat, and followed it up by claiming the title each of the following two seasons.

1979 | The 108th Open

When Seve arrived for The Open in 1979, a lot had happened since he had dramatically burst onto the scene at golf's original major three years previously. The Spaniard had picked up 15 wins across the world, and had posted five further top-20 finishes in majors, including two at The Open.

Yet at Royal Lytham and St Annes, he moved to another level, producing one of his most memorable performances to becoming the youngest Open Champion in nearly a century.

Playing in the final group in the final round with overnight leader Hale Irwin, Ballesteros fought hard to earn a two-stroke lead as he stood on the 16th tee at level par. With Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus in the clubhouse at two over, Ballesteros knew pars were as good as gold.

But in one of the most famous holes in his career, Seve then sliced a drive way to the right, finding an overflow car park that was still in play. After his ball came to rest under a car tyre, Seve took a free drop and played a wedge to the heart of the green.

From there, the rest was history. Seve holed a 30-foot birdie putt and went on to win by three strokes as he was crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year for the very first time.

1980 | The Masters

After his wonderful triumph at Lytham the year prior, Ballesteros would produce a statement victory in the 1980 Masters that took the world by storm.

Leading by a staggering 10 strokes at one point on the back nine, the Spaniard earned a dominant wire-to-wire success to claim his first Green Jacket, and usher in a period of European dominance at the Masters.

Not only that, but his play at Augusta signalled the start of a European revival in men’s golf, and the beginning of a new era of Ryder Cup and major championship success.

The 1980 Masters provided Seve with his second major triumph and his second victory on American soil, coming just four days after his 23rd birthday.

In becoming the youngest Masters champion in history, and the first ever European winner of the tournament, Seve had showed already in his burgeoning career that he was one of the most exciting golfing talents the world had ever seen. And he was only just getting started.

Stay tuned for part two and three of our series on Seve's Greatest Moments, coming soon.

More on Seve Ballesteros at The Open