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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Jacklin on Ballesteros
By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at Carnoustie

Seve Ballesteros (L) and Tony Jacklin celebrate the Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village in 1987
Ballesteros and Jacklin formed a successful Ryder Cup partnership

Tony Jacklin hailed Seve Ballesteros as unique and a one-off after the Spanish great announced his retirement ahead of the Open at Carnoustie.

Jacklin, the former Open and US Open champion, was the driving force behind Ballesteros's inspirational Ryder Cup career.

And the four-time European captain insisted the Spaniard was the most charismatic golfer he had ever seen.

"He was unique," the 63-year-old Jacklin told BBC Sport. "The impossible was an everyday thing for him.

"Somebody will come along with enormous talent again, but there was only one Seve.

"I played with Arnold Palmer just after his heyday in the mid 60s and Seve was more charismatic than anyone. He had it all.

"Does one shot stand out? Not really, the impossible was being done all the time. He did things other players couldn't do.

"That was his greatness. I'm just sorry he couldn't enjoy his senior days playing reasonable golf like some of us others are doing."

Ballesteros was known for his swashbuckling approach to the game and his ability to conjure wonder shots from seemingly impossible situations.


He turned professional in 1974 at the age of 16 and made a huge impact two years later by finishing second in the Open alongside Jack Nicklaus at Royal Birkdale, and winning the first of his six Order of Merit titles.

A first major title came at the 1979 Open, a tournament he would also win in 1984 and 1988. And he also became the first European to win the Masters, taking Green Jackets in 1980 and 1983.

Ballesteros's breakthrough led to a raft of European major winners, with Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal following in his footsteps.

"Seve made an enormous contribution to European golf," said Jacklin, who won the Open in 1969 and the US Open in 1970.

"The 80s was the golden age of golf in Europe, as far as I'm concerned, and Seve was its brightest star."

Jacklin, as Europe's new Ryder Cup captain in 1983, was the man responsible for persuading Ballesteros to return to the event after he had threatened to never play in it again following his controversial omission in 1981.

Ballesteros made his Ryder Cup debut in 1979 but was overlooked for a spot two years later because his US-based schedule prevented him accruing enough points in Europe.

I'd put myself in tricky situations around the green and try to be Seve

Luke Donald

But Jacklin brought about a change of heart and, as captain and star player respectively, the pair went on to orchestrate Europe's renaissance in the competition, beginning with the first victory for 28 years at The Belfry in 1985.

"I remember saying to [then British PGA president] Lord Derby, 'Now I've accepted the captain's role, what about Seve?'," said Jacklin.

"He says, 'well, now you've accepted, he's your problem.' But he was never a problem. I went and talked to him and he was as mad as I was at all the officialdom.

"But when we got that put to bed, we were both passionate we could turn the Ryder Cup around."

The pair led Europe in their successful defence of the trophy in America two years later.

And Ballesteros went on to dominate the next four Ryder Cups, playing in all 25 matches, winning 16 and halving four before achieving a lifelong ambition in captaining the winning side in 1997.

Luke Donald, Britain's number one going into this week's Open, told BBC Sport that Ballesteros was a huge inspiration and he used to pretend he was playing against Seve as a child.

"I started playing golf in the mid 80s when he was at the height of his career and I watched him a lot as a kid," said the 29-year-old Donald.

"I'd put myself in tricky situations around the green and try to be Seve, or say, 'this to beat Seve' because he was a genius around the greens."

Seve's career in photos
16 Jul 07 |  Golf
Seve driven to the brink
13 May 03 |  Golf
Ballesteros' fall from grace
08 May 03 |  Golf


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