Seve would be proud as son Javier Ballesteros joins Jose-Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jiminez to roll back the years at the Dubai Desert Classic
Ballesteros was playing as an amateur at the event that his late and beloved father won back in 1992
Olazabal, Jimenez and Ballesteros, a Spanish three-ball for all-time, applauded on to the 18th at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. Some say young Javier looks more like his mother. Not with a golf club in his hand.
How we wish it were Seve out there, engineering the miraculous from the wreckage of another wayward tee shot. In a sense it was, given the gene pool and the compass points Javier visited with the driver.
On the 25th anniversary of the Dubai Desert Classic this week, the 23-year-old law student carries the Ballesteros name playing as an amateur. He carded a two-over par 74 in yesterday’s Champion Challenge in the company of his father’s disciples, Jose-Maria and Miguel Angel, who pass almost as uncles to him.
Was he nervous? “A little bit. It is important thing to have fun. Playing with Jose-Maria and Miguel Angel, who I have known many years, made things easier,” Ballesteros said.
The 18-hole challenge featured the past winners of the Desert Classic, of whom Seve was one, miraculously, of course, closing with six single putts before downing Ronan Rafferty in a play-off in 1992. Javier acknowledges that it was emotional taking his spot in memory of his father.
“Being able to play here for my dad, I try to play my best and make him proud.” No pressure there then. “Not really. I think what my dad did was fantastic, really incredible. I just try to be myself and play golf. I was a bit nervous on the first tee, but that’s normal.”
As was the drive on the first, sprayed left into the cabbage. “I went everywhere with the driver like him but not as good after. I hit a really bad drive at the first, the ball was in the rough. It was nice to put it on the fairway and I did a good up and down.
“On three I hit a really bad drive, way to the right and then I hit a six iron and then hit a good eight iron to make birdie. I thought I was going to take a seven, hit it into the water something like that, so it was good to make four.”
It was the first time Olazabal had shared a round with his mentor’s son, and it proved a moving experience. “On the first tee, when I saw Javier, I saw Seve. I was very emotional at that moment. He brought back a lot of memories of Seve. I could see a lot of Seve on the golf course. He has the same mannerisms as his father, particularly when he’s standing over the ball. His short game is very nice. His chipping and putting very good, like his father.”
The sentiment ended there, however. Should Ballesteros Jnr chose golf over law the road ahead is long, according to Olazabal. “He really needs to improve. He was very erratic off the tee. He’s concentrating on his studies in Madrid at the moment. He has another year and a half, two years at least. We will see after that.”
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