Sky TV com­men­ta­tor Tony Johnstone re­calls a re­cov­ery shot by Seve Balles­teros.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - – Mur­ray Ley­den

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.”

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