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History of The Open

Seve's Greatest Moments


Part Two: 1983-1988

Seve Ballesteros celebrates winning The Open at St Andrews

As part of our series celebrating the life and career of Seve Ballesteros, is taking a look back at 12 of the Spaniard’s greatest moments.

You can read part one here.

Part two looks at four more glorious highlights, including Seve’s second and third Open triumphs.

1983 | World Match Play

Seve Ballesteros in action at the Suntory World Match Play in 1982

Seve in action at Wentworth in the Suntory World Match Play

Throughout the 1980s Ballesteros emphatically established himself as the master of match play.

In addition to his heroic deeds at the Ryder Cup, Seve won the Suntory World Match Play Championship four times from 1981 to 1985, frequently excelling in the heat of one-to-one battle.

Yet one of his most iconic moments actually came in the only edition of the championship in that five-year period when he did not take the trophy.

In 1983 Ballesteros looked to be heading for defeat in his opening-round match against Arnold Palmer, as the latter came down the 18th holding a 1up lead before finding the green in three at Wentworth’s closing par 5.

Seve was approximately 50 yards away in two, but he proceeded to play a perfect chip and run that saw his ball hit the middle of the flag and drop into the cup for an eagle that forced extra holes.

Ballesteros went on to win at the third extra hole, further enhancing his growing reputation, but it was his stunning shot at the 18th that would live longest in the memory.

1984 | The 113th Open

The Open in 1984 provided the highlight of Seve’s stellar career, and a triumph to rank among the most memorable in the history of golf.

Spectators at St Andrews were left thrilled as the charismatic Ballesteros held off Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer over the back nine to secure the Claret Jug for a second time, five years on from his maiden success at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

The birdie putt that effectively sealed his victory on his 72nd hole triggered a joyous, fist-pumping celebration that would become synonymous with the charismatic crowd favourite.

“It was the happiest moment of my whole sporting life,” said Seve.

1985 | The Ryder Cup
Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team of 1985

Europe's 1985 Ryder Cup team celebrate their victory

In the year that followed his second Open win, Seve notched up another landmark success as part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

He and compatriot Antonio Garrido had become the first players from continental Europe to play in the event six years earlier, following an expansion of the Great Britain & Ireland team brought about by years of one-sided contests in favour of the United States.

Seve’s debut ended in defeat, but he soon became the driving force behind a spectacular upturn in fortunes for Europe, who almost claimed victory at PGA National in 1983 before breaking through at The Belfry two years later.

Ballesteros contributed 3.5 points to Europe’s historic triumph, but his impact could not be measured in points alone. More than anyone, he was responsible for helping his team-mates believe the star-studded USA side could be beaten.

Seve added a further four points in 1987 – the year he began his record-breaking alliance with his great friend Jose Maria Olazabal – as Europe triumphed once more, this time on American soil, and there would be many further Ryder Cup highlights to come as a player and captain.

1988 | The 117th Open

If The Open of 1984 at St Andrews gave Seve his happiest golfing moment, a return to Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1988 culminated in a stunning performance he would go on to describe as “perhaps the best round of my entire career”.

As had been the case when he triumphed in 1979 and 1984, Ballesteros was two shots off the lead with 18 holes to play.

Nick Price was the man to catch on this occasion and the Zimbabwean, Seve and Nick Faldo were all grouped together as the Championship’s final round was played on a Monday for the first time in its history due to inclement weather.

Defending Champion Faldo could not find his very best form, but Ballesteros and Price both excelled and a fascinating duel unfolded between two high-class players operating at the top of their games.

Seve ultimately prevailed with a superb 65 to win his third Open and second at Lytham.

It was a thrill to play to this standard,” said a gracious Price. “When you are beaten by somebody, especially the way he played, you bow out gracefully.”


We will soon share four more magical moments from the career of Seve Ballesteros. To explore all of our content celebrating the three-time Champion Golfer, visit

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