24 things you didn’t know about Seve Ballesteros

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To celebrate the launch of SEVE The Movie on June 27, check out these fascinating facts about the master. 

1 Seve was born with a physical defect which meant his right shoulder would hang down below his left – the ideal address position.

2 He played in his first tournament at 10 and scored a 10 at the 1st hole. He finished 5th with a 51 over nine holes.

3 At the age of 12 he was expelled from school.

4 Seve turned professional on April 17, 1974, eight days after his 17th birthday. The first tournament he played in was the Spanish Open at La Manga, where he shot rounds of 83 and 76 to miss the cut by six. The tournament was won by an American called Jerry Heard, who won £4,336.

5 Seve’s first professional cheque was for just £15.

6 Seve loved bicycling almost as much as golf. He had several bikes in his garage, and used to ride them to get fit until near the end.

7 There is a Spanish ballad which they still sing in Pedrena which contains the line: “Oh, Severiano, you have left the English and Americans like destroyed eagles”.

8 Seve’s favourite actor was Charles Bronson and his favourite actress was Brooke Shields. He also loved Miami Vice and Julio Iglesias.

9 A local from Santander called Dr Cesar Campuzano, lent Seve $1,000 to help get him through his first year as a pro. Seve paid him back by giving him the ball he won the 1979 Open with.

10 During the practice days of the 1980 Masters, Seve paced the whole course out himself, taking copious notes. His American caddie was used to yards, but Seve preferred metres.

11 There was a story in the 1990s that Seve had gone out into the Arizona desert with the controversial coach Mac O’Grady (who was coaching him at the time) and buried clubs, old photos and videos of his swing, so that his mind could start the rebuilding of his swing on a fresh note. Asked about this in 2006, Seve replied: “It never happened. It was just a publicity stunt, invented by the two of us, to get the press off our backs.”

12 When he went to watch his favourite football team, Racing Santander, there was no box, reserved parking or special treatment. He was an ordinary fan.

13 A week before the 1976 Open, when Seve led after two rounds, at the age of 19, he was bailing hay with his father, back in Pedrena. A couple of days before, he was caddying for his brother Manuel (who wasn’t exempt) at Hillside. Seve got a guy called Dick Draper, who was a local policeman, to caddie for him. Draper had never caddied for anyone before.

14 During National Service, Seve earned £2 a week teaching Air Force officers golf.

15 He won 87 times worldwide, and after every single victory, the bells of Pedrena church (which also held his funeral) were rung. Faldo won 39 times worldwide.

16 In May 2007, Seve made his debut on the Champions Tour at the Regions Charity Classic in Alabama. His first tee shot missed the 75-yard-wide fairway by some distance. He tried to thread his second shot through a six-foot gap, struck a tree, rebounded into a bunker and finished with a double bogey. He finished 77th, which doesn’t seem that bad, until you realise it was a field of 78.

17 Seve loved to box as a kid. It was in the boxing ring that he first injured his back, which caused him trouble for the rest of his career. During a fight he tripped and landed on his coccyx. Even when he was ill, Seve would box to try to stay fit.

18 During the 1985 Italian Open at Molinetto, Seve had a run of eight birdies in a row. His third round of 64 contained nine birdies in all, and an eagle. 

19 The famous image of him punching the air was tattooed on his left arm, and he put it on his front door.

20 Seve was nearly known as Seve Sota. Sota was Seve’s mother’s maiden name. His mother, wife and daughter were all called Carmen.

21 When Seve married Carmen Botin in 1988, she was the daughter of the owner of Banco Santander, and so one of the richest women in Spain.

22 By the end of his life, he had no golf books in his living room, and only one golf video. It was an instruction video by David Leadbetter.

23 For years, he kept a .38 calibre pistol under his bed, in case intruders came in.

24 Seve was the only person in the world to own two Green Jackets from Augusta National and keep them both at home. He took a second one home with him, at the end of his final Masters in 2007.

Seve was the master of matchplay - read more here