Thanks to outstanding golf blogger Steph Wei for her reminder that not only is Saturday the 54th birthday of legendary golfer Seve Ballesteros, it is also the 25th anniversary of his unwinding at the '86 Masters.
Former CBS commentator Ben Wright, profiled by ThePostGame.com earlier this week, tells a heart-rending story about that final round and its aftermath. Wright was stationed on the 15th hole, where Jack Nicklaus had just made eagle to continue his historic 30 on the back nine. He could tell that Ballesteros, normally as smooth as any player in PGA Tour history was rattled by all the noise and adulation following Nicklaus through the course. As Wright tells it, Ballesteros hurried his shot, perhaps because he wanted to make contact before another thunderous ovation bounced off the trees, and hooked it so badly that Wright predicted a water landing almost as soon as the end of the Spaniard's downswing.
Wright was right, and Seve finished fourth. The two ran into each other in the pro shop the next day, as Wright tells it, and by then, Ballesteros had seen the call. "You were very cruel to me," he told Wright, upon which the broadcaster replied, "Seve, you were cruel to yourself. That was a terrible shot."
The two did not speak for quite a while after that, until one day at dinner, Wright felt a tap on his shoulder. He spun around and Ballesteros was standing there, grinning. "You're right," he said, "it was a terrible shot!"
There were very few terrible shots in Seve's career. Older golfers still say he had the best imagination of any golfer they have ever seen. For all Phil Mickelson's wizardry around the greens, Ballesteros had even more. He was a magician.
We wish him a happy birthday, and our prayers as he fights against brain cancer.