Tait: Ballesteros needs a lasting tribute
Friday, September 16, 2011
This week’s Vivendi Seve Trophy has done much to remember arguably the greatest European Tour player ever. However, it doesn’t go far enough.
Severiano Ballesteros needs a lasting tribute.
There are some great players competing in this week’s Vivendi Trophy in Paris; Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ian Poulter are among the star attractions. However, it’s not exactly the crème de la crème of European golf. Among the absentees: Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Graeme McDowell, Martin Laird, Robert Karlsson and Padraig Harrington.
Some of the above are competing in the BMW Championship on the PGA Tour. Others can’t squeeze the Seve event into a busy schedule.
Therein lies one of the problems with naming a tournament after a player. Sometimes, the event gets lost in the never-ending carousel of professional golf, when one tournament seems to blend into another. Byron Nelson was one of the greatest players ever, but take a look at the annual entry list for the PGA Tour event named after him and it hardly pays justice to Nelson’s achievements.
The other problem with naming a tournament after a great player is there is no guarantee it will last. Sponsors come and go. There’s nothing to stop Vivendi from spending its money elsewhere. It may have a look at its investment and decide it isn’t getting value for its money, especially if there is a struggle to attract the top stars.
There are examples of tournaments named after players that no longer exist. The Sarazen World Open springs to mind, and so does the Greg Norman Holden International.
The European Tour needs to find a more fitting tribute to the man who helped make the European Tour what it is today. Players wouldn’t be earning the vast sums of money if not for Seve making the game sexy in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Seve’s charisma and movie-star good looks, coupled with the exciting way he played the game, brought sponsors to the European table. Former executive director Ken Schofield found his job far easier once the Spaniard announced himself to the world by finishing second in the 1976 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
The European Tour needs a permanent honor to the great man. Various ideas have been discussed, such as naming an award after him, but the one nearly everyone agrees on is placing his image on the European Tour logo.
The image of Harry Vardon currently adorns the European Tour logo. The Vardon Trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the Order of Merit, hence the logic behind using the six-time Open winner’s image.
However, a quintessential English golfer in a flat cap from the early 19th century doesn’t exactly represent the European Tour’s cosmopolitan image. Let Vardon’s name remain associated with the leading money winner, but replace him on the logo with Seve’s image.
Ballesteros' celebration upon holing the winning putt in the 1984 Open Championship would be a more modern image befitting modern European golf. It also would be a fitting tribute to Seve’s greatness.