Sky TV commentator Tony Johnstone recalls a recovery shot by Seve Ballesteros.
Tony Johnstone recalls a miraculous bunker escape by Seve Ballesteros.
It’s tough to pick one shot of Seve’s, because in my mind he’s the most naturally gifted golfer ever. There has never been anybody in the same league. But he played a recovery shot in Sweden in 1980 that I’ll never forget.
It was in the Scandanavian Enterprise Open at Vasatorps. David Stratton and I were fellow rookies on the European Tour that year. Seve was playing in the afternoon so after finishing our rounds we went to watch him play a few holes.
His ball had plugged in the back lip of a greenside bunker and had disappeared between the turf and the sand in the sheer face of this bunker. We thought the ball was unplayable, and tried to work out where he would get to drop.
Seve wandered up, scratched his head, walked around the bunker a few times and then slowly went through virtually every club in his bag. He pulled each club out and turned it up on its toe. We thought this was just posing, because this couldn’t be done. And I should add that the flag was four metres from the bunker.
The next thing it was literally like a light bulb going on. You could see Seve suddenly had an idea, and I mean it’s not something he could ever have practised. He took out his Ping putter, turned it on its toe, went up to the edge of the bunker, and looked to see where the ball was. He settled himself and then took this humongous swipe with the toe of his putter, removing a big chunk of turf in the process.
Next thing we saw the ball shoot down the bunker like a bullet and run up the far face. It popped out and finished 18 inches short of the flag! Dave and I nearly passed out. We’d never seen anything like it. Then and there we walked straight back to the clubhouse, because we thought he might destroy what little confidence we had as rookies.
That was just one example of the kind of shots Seve could and did play. He would invent shots as he went around. He was the greatest golfing genius of all time. Simple as that.
“Dave and I nearly passed out. We’d never seen anything like it.”