Seve – 10 years on

Back in October Seve Ballesteros’ nephew Ivan shared this emotional story on LinkedIn.


“I seldom use social media. In fact, I barely post photos from time to time. But this occasion deserves few lines that I would like to share.

5th October 2008, exactly 10 years ago, we were supposed to take a flight that we never took. I still keep that boarding pass. Instead, we ended up in a hospital and Seve was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Ryder Cup took place last week. Always fun to watch the great players that represent both teams, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the European Team for another victory. I watched it on tv and it was nice to see how people enjoyed the atmosphere and how Seve was remembered among other great players who have contributed to the growth of this competition. Like all the big sporting events, the Ryder Cup is full of history made by past and present champions.

It is hard for me not to remember Seve during a Ryder Cup week. It is hard for me not to remember Seve almost every day. To me, he was more than a godfather, an uncle, or someone I worked with. He was a mentor from whom I learnt many things. I travelled with him and I worked next to him from 1999 till his last days. I will always be grateful for his trust and for all the experiences and opportunities he gave me. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to show him my gratitude and personally thanked him for all those years and chances he offered me.

1993 was the first time he brought me to the Ryder Cup, The Belfry. Europe lost, and I still have the image of him crying like a kid, alone in his room and with his good friend Costantino Rocca.

In 1995, Seve took me with him on the Concorde and I traveled with the team to New York. I followed his last singles match in Oak Hill against Tom Lehman. He lost, but he lost with tremendous dignity. He played from every single corner of that golf course. Europe won.

Then 1997 at home, Spain, the first time the Ryder Cup took place outside the UK. Seve was the reason why the Ryder Cup left the British Islands for Continental Europe. And on this occasion, he gave me the opportunity of working at such an event.

The K Club, Ireland 2006, was the last time Seve visited the Ryder Cup. On Sunday that week, we were at the club house getting ready to go to the airport. Europe had already won the Cup again and I asked him: “Shall we go and see what is happening before we go to the airport?” We had some time to do so. “No, let’s go” he said. “I have nothing to do there. It’s better if we go home now.”

As we were leaving the club, walking across the parking, Paul McGingley came to him and said: ”Seve!, come with us!, this also belongs to you!”.

“No, no, no Paul, it’s ok. Thank you very much but you guys should go and enjoy it”. Seve replied. Paul McGinley shook hands with Seve and had very nice words for him. I witnessed a very special moment, to me that was the moment Seve said bye to this tournament.

But my thoughts now are more about how fast time goes and the things that can happen in a short period of time.

A day like today, 10 years ago Seve was diagnosed with cancer. A day that, unfortunately, many people experience when a relative or a close friend is given the bad news of a disease that has no cure. It is then a matter of time.

As I said at the beginning, on the 5th October 2008, I was about to travel with Seve to Germany. We were going to present a range of golf products under his name. Instead, it turned into a truly unpleasant day.

I remember every single detail and second of that day. His arrival to Madrid airport, his gesture of concern when I helped him to get into the car because his left leg was not responding, the entrance to the doctor’s office in the emergency room… and the communication of the diagnosis that the nurse gave me at the emergency gate, once the tests were over.

For three hours, I had been sitting in the hospital’s waiting room. Feeling impatient, after a while, I approached a nurse to tell her that we had to leave early to catch that flight to Germany. She looked at me and said: “Your uncle cannot leave today, he has a brain tumor.” I rapidly answered, probably without being conscious of the seriousness of the case. “And does he already know?” I asked. “Yes” she replied. “Can I come over to see him?” “Yes, of course, come with me.” She replied.

It has already been 10 years since that day, and since then, many things have happened.

I live now in Hong Kong, where I moved six years ago. Recently, while doing the groceries in a supermarket here, I found a bottle of an American beverage product with the image and brand of Mr. Arnold Palmer. It was nice to see how his brand and name are protected and proudly presented. At the same time, I felt sad to see what has happened with Seve and two international golf tournaments that were inspired on him. Not only inspired on him but he did put effort and work into them. Tournaments in which many good people and organizations were involved to make them happen from 2000 till 2013.

As people pay tribute to Seve, and remember his relationship with the Ryder Cup, and how much he had contributed to golf in Europe, these two events that were undoubtedly part of his legacy – The Royal Trophy ( and the Seve Trophy – are currently not being held. After several years, nobody has said anything about it, and I feel in the obligation of at least, refreshing people’s mind. Especially today.

I cannot hide my sadness and I must say the European Tour, during the last days of George O’Grady as CEO, acted in a very disappointing manner regarding The Royal Trophy, alluding “fundamental differences of policy with the promoters”. Interesting explanation. That is not exactly what Mr. O’Grady personally said to me on a phone conversation that I still remember extremely well.

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