Rose recalls Ballesteros memories

Justin Rose revealed what having an image of Seve Ballesteros on the bag will mean for Europe's players - and himself in particular - at this week's Ryder Cup in Chicago.

The Spanish Open, May 1995

While captain Jose Maria Olazabal would not confirm strong indications on Monday that his team plan to wear the navy jumper, trousers and white shirt so associated with Ballesteros in Sunday's singles, an iconic silhouette of the five-time major winner is on their golf bags at Medinah.

The image recreates Ballesteros's most famous pose, a clenched-fist salute to the crowd after holing the winning putt in the 1984 Open Championship at St Andrews.

Ballesteros himself used the symbol for his own company and had it tattooed on his left arm, while many players thought it should become the logo of the European Tour after his death in May last year following a long battle with cancer.

Ballesteros captained Europe to victory in his native Spain in 1997 after playing in the biennial contest eight times, famously forming a formidable partnership with Olazabal.

And Rose, who won three of his four matches on his sole previous appearance in the defeat at Valhalla in 2008, has plenty of fond memories of Ballesteros to draw upon this week.

"I did get to know Seve well," Rose told a press conference ahead of Tuesday's practice rounds. "He was one of the few guys when I was struggling on tour when I first turned pro [Rose missed 21 cuts in succession] to put his arm around me in a sense, more metaphorically, but just to give me some words of encouragement.

"I remember my first Masters, actually, he just said well done because my first Masters was a breakthrough for me. I had turned pro and gone through some struggles and then having achieved some success to get there. He was just really nice and complimentary.

"There's some video footage somewhere of me chatting to him and my mom meeting him and you can see my mom blushing and stuff.

"Seve was definitely a special character. And one of my favourite memories is winning my first tournament (in America) at the Memorial Tournament, and Seve was the guy being honoured that year.

"A couple of times during that win I had some tough short-game shots and Seve sprang to mind and I was trying to picture how Seve would have tried to play the shot.

"He was definitely with me that week and one of my greatest keepsakes is the book from the Memorial that Jack (Nicklaus) had signed to me, and Seve has also signed to me because I relayed the story to Seve about how I thought of him and he wrote back and I got him to sign my book. That's something that I will cherish forever."

Speaking about the image of Ballesteros on the players' bags, Olazabal said: "We felt that this was one way that Seve could be with us every step of the way. This is the first match since he sadly passed away and a fitting tribute to a true champion and a great friend.

"Seve was an important part of the Ryder Cup because of the way he played and conducted himself from his opening match in 1979. This is the first time since then that he has not been present in anyway, because in 2010 he was able to talk to everyone via the telephone.

"Seve set a wonderful example to generations of golfers and for me there are many, many memories particularly involving the Ryder Cup. Now the best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing for him and his image will certainly ensure he is alongside us throughout the week."

Olazabal later revealed the thinking behind the use and placement of the image of Ballesteros, adding: "As soon as we started deciding the materials for the golf bag and the shape of the golf bag, straight away we had the idea that we wanted to have a couple of spots available for that, one on the front part of the bag and the other one from the back side of the bag.

"We came up with the idea that it would be nice to have Seve's silhouette so every time somebody gets to grab a club or something from the bag they can see the silhouette."

US captain Davis Love also revealed he had given Europe's caddies a yardage book with the same silhouette inside.



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